JOHN Poloso, 47, was jailed yesterday for two and half years for his part in the $10 million scandal uncovered in the Ministry of Health and Medical Service last year.
He became the first accused to be jailed for his part in the scandal.
Poloso pleaded guilty to two counts of false pretences.
The Magistrates Court had heard Poloso defrauded the Ministry of Health of more than $1.5 million.
He did that by registering a fictitious shipping company and billing the Ministry of Health for shipping services that were never carried out.
This was done over time and with the help of officials administering the funds.
But the court also heard Poloso was just a “little fish” in this whole scheme to defraud the government.
In the words of his lawyer Emma Garo: Poloso was just a “toy boy” who was used by other people within the ministries of Health and Finance to fulfill a well organised scheme.
The public expects the court to punish Poloso severely in accordance with the $1.5 million that was stolen in his name.
But as was convincingly argued by Ms Garo in mitigation, Poloso was just brought in by initiators of this evil scheme to be used to steal the $10 million.
We don’t even know whether he had collected the full $1.5 million stolen in his name. Of course he must have benefitted in a big way.
However, he was not the initiator and he cannot carry out this dirty job alone.
This is the reason why Principal Magistrate Jim Seuika decided, after considering the facts before him, to jail Poloso for just two and half years.
It’s also understood Poloso has agreed to assist police and prosecutors follow the money trail and get to those behind the scheme.
So the truth of this case is that the bigger fish are still out there. They are the ones who initiated the scheme, planned it, and meticulously carried out it.
These people must be brought to justice. The public demands it.
Police yesterday issued a statement announcing that the second suspect in this case should be brought before the courts soon.
That is good news and we encourage investigators to keep going after those involved.
The funds stolen were those given to us by the Australian Government as part of their support to the country’s health system.
They are funds that the ministry should be using to build more clinics in our rural areas, stock them with medication, and improve other health facilities.
By stealing them, those who did it denied our rural people the much needed health service they are entitled to.
In the event they are brought to court and found guilty, the public expects the court to punish them in line with the severity of their crimes.
That they’ve stolen public funds and denied our rural people health services they are entitled to as citizens of this nation.
Long prison terms and orders to recoup the stolen monies through confiscation of assets are the kind of sentences the public expect to be meted out against these thieves.
Great job by our police thus far!