THE ORAL pre-trial conference on the case of the senior government officer accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $800,000 of public funds through dishonest tender processes will be made in court on August 16.
This followed the filing of the pre-trial documents on the case of Stephen Jude Oto yesterday at the Honiara Magistrates’ Court.
The matter was supposed to be for the hearing of the pre-trial conference last week.
That was not done as Public Prosecutor Florence Joel informed the court pre-trial documents were just filed Friday morning.
Principal Magistrate Tearo Beneteti who mentioned the matter on Friday said the pre-trial hearing will be conducted before Chief Magistrate John Numapo.
She therefore adjourned the matter for enable Mr Numapo to hear the pre-trial.
Oto was the first public officer to have been arrested by Taskforce Janus, a partnership between the Ministry of Police and Ministry of Finance, set up specifically to target fraud within the public service.
At the time of his arrest, Oto was the Financial Controller within the Ministry of Police and Correctional Services as well as a member of the ministry’s tender board.
Oto was charged after the Ministry of Finance and Treasury lodged a complaint with the police.
The prosecution alleged that on 26 March 2015, Oto was appointed as a member of the Ministry of Police National Security and Correctional Services Ministerial Tender Board.
A requirement of this appointment was that he familiarise himself with the processes set out in the Solomon Islands Financial Instructions.
It was alleged that between 1 December 2015 and 18 August 2016, Jahman Enterprise, a company Oto allegedly set up and owned, answered calls for tenders and has been awarded business contracts for service to the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services on 11 different occasions.
A number of these transactions have required Certificate of Registration of Business name from the Company Haus to be submitted together with the tender.
Police alleged Oto, on a number of occasions, supplied a falsified Certificate of Registration of Business name, removing his own name from this certificate and replacing it with the name Edward Laufooa, to conceal his identity.
His business Jahman Enterprise was alleged to have subsequently invoiced the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, who have made payments totally up to $817, 256.50 to Jahman Enterprises for these services.
Police further alleged that those payments were also alleged to have been made into an account which Oto is the sole signatory.
On a number of occasions, Oto has certified requisitions as the Accountable Officer and on occasions, would allegedly certified that goods and services have been received.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN