30 June 2020
Chris Laore.

Minister orders check 
on council finances


A SPECIAL audit of Honiara City Council (HCC) books is underway following allegations of widespread financial mismanagement and illegal borrowings.

The office of the Auditor General is conducting what it called a ‘Spot on Audit’ at the directives of the Minister of Home Affairs Chris Laore.

“….yes, the audit began last week,” Auditor General Peter Lokay told the Solomon Star yesterday.

“It is being carried out at the request of minister Laore,” Lokay added.

“It’s a ‘spot on audit’, which will be carried out for two weeks.

“However, it’s subject to extension depending on the availability of required reports and financial documents from the HCC office.”

Lokay said a report based on their findings will be submitted to the minister as per his request.

“My officers will only audit the accounts, but the Ministry of Homes Affairs is the responsible body to act on the results of the audit,” he explained. 

Earlier, sacked Finance chairman Billy Abae questioned the City Mayor Wilson Mamae on how the $18 million revenue collected within the first three months of 2020 is spent.

Mamae has since chosen to remain silent.

Abae also questioned the council’s borrowing of $1.8 million from appointed councillor and businessman John Szetu for the purchase of fire extinguishers.

He further queried another $1 million the council spent on vehicles Szetu supplied.

Abae earlier said he has compiled a quarterly report before his termination and the report would also be provided to the auditors.

Reports of widespread financial mismanagement and conflict of interests are expected to be exposed in the coming weeks.

This is in relation to awarding of contracts to councillors and lock-up shops instead of tendering them out.

The office of the city clerk is believed to be heavily involved in these contract allocations.

Honiara residents yesterday welcomed the audit, saying it’s about time.