A WARRANT of arrest (WOA) has been issued on Friday at the Honiara Magistrates’ Court for the arrest of the Minister of Provincial Governments and Institutional Strengthening David Tome.
Chief Magistrate John Numapo issued the warrant of arrest for the government Minister after he and his lawyer Michael Pitakaka of Michael Pitakaka Law Chamber failed to appear in court.
Public Prosecutor Olivia Ratu told the court Mr Pitakaka was supposed to appear and update the court on the status of his client whether he is back in the country or not.
A date is then to be set for a pre-trial conference.
The court had on the last court appearance last month waived some of Tome’s bail conditions to enable him to travel overseas for medical attention at the St Vincent Hospital in Australia.
He said Tome needs further treatment but Solomon Islands does not have the required medical facility to attend to his case.
Ms Ratu said she did not receive any communication from the defence.
Mr Numapo having heard from the prosecution issued the warrant of arrest for Tome.
He then adjourned the matter to September 18 for the review.
Tome’s case was supposed to be for a pre-trial conference early last month but given his health condition, it was vacated.
Minister Tome faces 14 counts of conversion as he was accused of converting $67, 170 that was supposed to be for a tree farming project in his constituency.
Prosecution alleged that on 27 June 2011 Shem Tome on behalf of the community association owned and registered as Grass Root Economic Development Community (GREDC) which was involved in tree farming or reforestation in Baegu/Asifola Constituency, submitted their application for the amount of $80,000 to their MP, Tome, through the Forestry office in Auki.
The money was for buying tools and materials for reforestation.
It was alleged that the proposal without the endorsement of the Member of Parliament for Baegu/Asifola Constituency David Tome was then later refereed to the Ministry of Forestry and Research in particular the office of Reforestation in Honiara.
The proposal was later endorsed by the Director of Reforestation on 30 June 2011.
It was further alleged the proposal was then forwarded to the office of the Permanent Secretary (PS) for further approval and the PS later endorsed and approved it for payment under the reforestation scheme on 19 July 2011.
Prosecution further alleged that the proposal was later forwarded to the Accounts Section of the Ministry of Forestry and Research and a requisition was raised on 1 August 2011.
Upon approval by the Financial Controller the payment was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT) for payment.
It was alleged that the Ministry of Finance approved and paid the amount of $80,000 on 24 August 2011 from the Government Account for this project.
Police investigators however, alleged Tome collected the cheque on an unknown date from the Ministry of Finance and later deposited it into his constituency account on 9 September 2011 at the ANZ bank in Honiara.
He then allegedly withdrew various amounts of money on various dates on September 2011 totalling up to $67, 170.
The money, according to the proposal, should be paid to Honiara Hardware for tools and materials in full and not for withdrawal in single cheques as the accused allegedly did.
The constituents have no idea whether or not the payment was made until a forestry officer made it known to one of them who in turn reported the matter to the police.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN