Virivolomo tells court of $10M payment
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
TRIAL into the case of the outgoing MP for Savo/Russell accused of converting $3milion intended to purchase a ship for his constituency in 2013 started yesterday.
Mua is standing trial for one count of conversion before Chief Magistrate Emma Garo.
So far two witnesses have completed their evidence on day one of trial.
The first prosecution witness is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Aviation, Moses Virivolomo.
At the time of the alleged incident, Virivolomo was the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID).
He told the court that in 2013, the DCCG government made a decision in the dying hours of parliament to do an extra allocation, which was approved by the Cabinet through contingency warrant of $10 million.
He said three constituencies including the Savo/Russell received $3 million each of that $10 million while two other constituencies share the $1 million to make up the $10 million.
“That $10 million was paid on the 31st of December 2013, just before Treasury and Ministry of Finance office close for the financial year,” he said.
Virivolomo testified that three constituencies that benefited from the $10 million contingency warrant are North Malaita, Malaita Outer Island and Savo/Russell who received $3million each.
He added that the balance of the $10 million was allocated to late Onika, who received $700,000 and Tovosia, who received $300,000.
Virivolomo said this payment was done in the dying time of the parliament and at the closure of the Ministry of Finance for payments for that financial year.
He said those payments had to be facilitated to be paid in 2013, and to be in compliance the Ministry requested proposals from the recipients of the $10 million.
The court was told the proposals were received but were very basic because of the time required of them to prepare the documentations.
The witness said they require the recipients to get them, if they have registered the company shipping services, to tell them where they will buy the goods from, roughly the amount, pictures if they have and whether the funds going to be accepted to be paid into the constituency accounts, not any other personal accounts.
“When the proposals were received, because we have to meet the timeline, I instructed my accounts to raise the payments on those basic proposals that we received, plus some items I mentioned earlier including the registration of the company that run the shipping services.
“The three constituencies that received the $3million, it was for new boats, not new but supposed to buy boats,” Virivolomo said.
When asked if he received proposal from the Savo/Russell constituency, he said he did but because of the timeline, it was a very basic proposal.
Virivolomo was then shown documents (exhibits) which he did not recall seeing, two of the documents including the application from the Savo/Russell constituency.
He only recalled sighting the document containing the photograph of the ship.
When asked why he still processed the payments when not all minimum requirements were given to him, Virivolomo said it was because it is the last day of payment for that financial year.
He said due to that reason, not all minimum requirements were met.
The PS further added that as the accounting officer not paying $10 million that year will mean that has to come out of his budget in 2014.
“So it is also a budgetary issue,
“The contingency warrant has to be paid out in 2013.”
In cross examination, when asked by the defence counsel if he can remember who were on the long list of cabinet approved shipping grants, he said he could not remember the original allocation.
When asked again what documents he received with this cabinet approved list, Virivolomo said they only receive the conclusion.
Virivolomo was asked if he can recall what the conclusion actually says, he said he cannot remember but the conclusion would be to approve of the list of recipients.
After the completion of the evidence of the second witness, the trial was further adjourned to continue today.
The second witness was an accounts officer of MID at that time of the alleged offending.
The MP is being accused of allegedly converting $3million intended to purchase a ship for his constituency in 2013 for his own use.
It was alleged that a payment of $2.8million was to purchase a ship for his constituency.
The constituency however, never received a ship.
Prosecution alleged Mua used the remaining $200,000 to purchase other items not related to the purpose of the grant.
He allegedly made withdrawals in early 2014, when the shipping grant was made available in the Savo/Russell constituency bank account.
Lazarus Kwaiga of L & L Lawyers represents Mua while Public Prosecutor Sirepu Ramosaea is prosecuting.
…with pics of Mua