Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Nobetau, announced that a further two officers employed by the Department of Community Government have been dismissed due to their alleged involvement in gross misconduct, theft and fraud.
The officers were found to have allegedly misused funds that had been allocated by the Autonomous Bougainville Government to assist with the funeral expenses of the late Premier, Leo Hannet, last year.
“The fact that these individuals could steal money that had been allocated to assist with funeral expenses brings great shame to them and the ABG. These funds were meant to offset the expense and cost for the family, in recognition of Mr Hannet’s significant contribution to Bougainville, but instead these individuals, acting selfishly, brought nothing but for personal gain,” the Chief Secretary said.
The individuals have been referred to the police fraud squad and charges have been laid. Court proceedings are now pending.
One additional person has also been charged but had already left the employment of the public service by the time charges were laid.
“For too long public servants have acted in the belief that they are above the law. The evidence in these cases shows callous disregard for lawful process and involved conspiracy with third party service providers who actively aided and abetted the fraud by cashing cheques. Such acts cannot go unpunished,” Nobetau said.
“It is my hope that the criminal justice system will apply appropriate penalties to all those found to have been involved.”
Since commencing as Chief Secretary for the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Nobetau has been working actively to implement the President’s mandate to clean up the public service and hold those that break the law to account.
Over the course of the last two years more than 30 public servants have been dismissed due to theft and poor conduct, with dozens of other cases still being investigated.
The tough stance adopted by Nobetau has seen many cases of fraudulent activities coming to light, with even those at the highest levels of the ABG’s political echelons already implicated.