Sore, Mamae further exposed
By IAN M.KAUKUI
SACKED Deputy Treasurer of the Honiara City Council (HCC) says his recent sacking was an attempt to stop him from exposing some dishonest deals within the regime.
Obedson Pina speaking exclusively in an interview with the Solomon Star yesterday said claims by City Clerk Rence Sore that his removal was related to non-performance is not true.
Earlier on, the former sacked Finance Chair Billy Abae had accused Sore that the removal of the council’s deputy treasurer was unfair and politically motivated.
Speaking to the paper for the first time, Mr. Pina said now is the time for him to reveal the true story about his removal.
“My termination is said to do with non-performance, something I out-rightly deny,” he said.
He said the City Clerk and those working within the finance division will know who actually performs in the first quarter under the current HCC regime.
He began his work with HCC on the 10th of February 2020 without an official or proper handover.
“During my first week and month, I was merely going through some of the very important documents that would soon be my guard in the deliverance of my duty such as the HCC Act 1999, HCC Business Ordinance and Fees schedules.
“I have also used those times to go through HCC past running files and financial reports which include profit and loss statements, general journals, cash receipts journals, cash payments journals, and other sourced documents like receipts and payment vouchers (PVs),” he added.
He said that within the first month, he could not go through the whole documents because given the work itself took around a week to complete and digest.
“But I have made some progress in my work as a financial controller and have started to track down some interesting findings, one of which is the controversial fire extinguisher deal,” he said.
Pina admitted he was the one who uncovered all the dirty dealings within the HCC when he compiled the HCC’s 1st quarter financial report.
“I’m the one exposing the fire extinguisher deal that involves Clerk Sore, Appointed Councillor John Szetu, and the Lord Mayor amongst others.
“Because I started rocking the boat and is hitting raw nerves, termination is the viable option to keep me out from revealing more of their dirty dealings,” he said.
Pina said that as a responsible officer, he started questioning some of the suspicious payments and transactions that have compliance issues to balance the books.
“My first monthly bank reconciliation has found payments that were far from the council’s compliance mechanisms such as missing payment vouchers,” he said.
He further revealed when he started investigating the whereabouts of the PVs and other source documents that when Mr. Sore and his cohorts started to feel unease.
“Fearing that I might uncover what to them be best left untouched, I was removed,” he said.
Mr. Pina recalled that during the COVID-19 scale down, he was asked to produce a list of those that would go on temporary leave and those to continue working to which he was one them because of the importance of his post.
“Out of the blue, I receive a letter to work at home a few days after Cr. Abae’s case first hit the headlines in the print media.
“I was informed that Sore and Maemae suspected me for photocopying the Cheque which appeared in the paper.
“However, the duo realised later that it was not me.
“But at that time, the duo was determined to terminate the one responsible for photocopying the cheque,” he said.
However, his (officer) punishment was reduced to a verbal warning after realising that it was someone within the council’s ranks, he added.
Mr. Pina said that the leadership displayed by the City Clerk and the Mayor looks admirable on the outside but, it is something else in practice.
“I vehemently believe that they are doing this for a reason – to hide from their own dirty laundries,” he expressed.
Pina said that Sore and Maemae should simply tell the truth because nothing will hide, adding he is one of the witnesses to all these deals and he is prepared to expose them.
He further highlighted that as far as the fire extinguisher issue is concerned, daily cash receipts from the sales of the product have never been accounted for in the council’s finance division.
“All fire extinguisher monies were accounted for by Sore himself in his office for reasons beyond the finance division’s comprehension.
“With that, I wish to caution the two cashiers including the current treasurer to do the right thing because I’m going to spill the bin whether you like it or not,” Mr. Pina warned.
After his sacking, Mr. Pina said a few changes have been introduced including reposting of receipts, especially for those fire extinguishers.
“Let me tell you that you have audits on your trail and all your corrupt dealings are sure to be exposed,” he added.
Pina said he also verbally warned the two cashiers that they are not accountants according to what they are doing.
“I would also want to call on responsible authorities to get rid of those people who have been involved in those dealings especially those cashiers, treasurer, business license officers as they really need to be investigated,” he said.
He said the process of acquiring the fire extinguishers is unprocedural and is not in the 2020 budget schedule or business ordinance of HCC.
“If an investigation has to be done, those people must be removed because they are not true accountants and their actions are not right.
“As an accountant, we are professionals and we must do our work accordingly. The word itself has already stated what our roles are. Accountant means to be accountable in whatever task being given” he added.
Pina cautioned the City Clerk to be aware that his (Pina) letter of termination for non-performance will result in the report that is soon to be made public and to be delivered to the responsible authorities for further investigation.
“Let me assure the City Clerk that non-performance that warranted my termination according to his judgment will come out soon in a compiled report,” he said.
He said he also supports those who stand for the truth by calling on the Minister of Home Affairs not to bury the issue but take it to the next level where some people have be held accountable for their actions.
“As a former deputy treasurer at HCC, I can say that the current HCC leadership under Sore and Mamae are reaping off millions of dollars for personal enrichment.
“I’m confident to say this to the residents of Honiara because all of these were done in front of my eyes and I am a witness to it all,” he said.
Pina said the report is now being viewed by an auditor and will soon be ready for public consumption, especially responsible authorities.
He acknowledged the surveillance camera system that was installed in the finance division because it will also testify to the truth.
He added his response letter to his termination will be delivered today before the City Clerk.