The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force today (31 October) arrested and charged the Member of Parliament for Savo Russell, Hon. Dickson Mua under section 278(1)(c)(i) of the Penal Code for the alleged conversion of a $3 million grant from the National Transport Fund 2013 paid to the Savo Russell Constituency.
The payment was purportedly for the purchase of a ship. It is alleged the money was never used for the purchase of a ship.
It is alleged that in March 2013 an application for a shipping grant was submitted to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) by the Honourable Dickson MUA PANAKITASI. According to the proposal document, the purpose of the project was to seek funding of $3 million from the Solomon Islands Government through the National Transport Fund 2013. This $3 million was for the purchase of a ship or vessel for the Savo – Russell constituency. The proposal was properly processed and approved by the MID and the funds were paid on 30th December 2013.
It is alleged that on 2nd January 2014, a Constituency Development Officer for Savo-Russell collected the cheque of $3million and deposited it into the Savo-Russell Constituency Bank account.
It is further alleged that the MP started to make a series of withdrawals from the bank account on 7th January 2014 until the $3 million was completely withdrawn by 4 February 2014.
RSIPF investigations revealed that instead of using the $3 million to purchase a ship as intended by the grant, the MP allegedly paid $2.8 million to a local company for the purchase of items such as boats, out-board motor engines and other equipment for distribution to his supporters in the Savo-Russell constituency. It is further alleged that $200,000 of the money was also withdrawn as cash or used for other expenses unrelated to the purpose of the shipping grant.
The matter was reported to police and a thorough and painstaking investigation was carried out.
The MP was interviewed by RSIPF detectives in February 2018.
Since that time, the RSIPF Corruption Targeting Team has continued to work closely with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to finalise the investigation.
The charge against the MP has been sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the office of the DPP will be responsible for the prosecution of the matter at Court.
Hon. Mua appeared in the Honiara Central Magistrates Court this afternoon and has been released on strict bail conditions and will reappear in Court on 14 November 2018.
Commissioner of RSIPF, Matthew Varley says, “This case demonstrates that the diligent investigators from the RSIPF Corruption Targeting Team are continuing their painstaking work behind the scenes, sometimes for years.
“This case also demonstrates that police are committed to following these cases through no matter how long it takes. Such corruption cases require the collection of many witness statements and the examination of dozens of bank documents. The investigators in such cases must apply a high level of attention to detail to be able to trace the money trail when millions of dollars go missing or are used improperly,” explains Commissioner Varley.
“I congratulate the Assistant Commissioner (Crime) and his hardworking officers in the NCID Corruption Targeting Team on their hard work and dedication in this case.”
Commissioner Varley emphasises: “The RSIPF’s job is not to become involved in politics but to uphold the law of this nation.”
“The RSIPF will continue to investigate allegations of corruption in Solomon Islands, no matter where the cases may lead. The clear message is that no one is above the law,” says Commissioner Varley.
The offence of conversion under Section 278(1)(c)(i) of the Penal Code carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
– Police Media