Five staff members of the Solomon Islands National University have been suspended amid allegations of fraud. SINU Vice Chancellor Professor Transform Aqorau in a media statement said evidence suggests the involvement of the staff members in fraudulent printing activities. Irregularities and financial discrepancies related to printing services provided by Wakaman Inc were the reasons for the investigation. Professor Aqorau says the company does not own a printing machine and SINU took the allegations of fraud seriously. The investigation conducted over the past six months by the National Crime Unit and Janus taskforce suggests that the staff members are involved in the fraudulent printing activities. The allegations against the SINU staff and Wakaman Inc are:
- Wakaman Inc was a fake company established with intent purposely to defraud SINU funds
- Wakaman initiated the pricing of goods and/or services above those which competitors were charging and on occasion only partly delivered goods and or services or delivered no goods or services to SINU
- In respect to the procurement and printing of the DU 800 courses booklets. It is alleged that the number of booklets requested for payment exceeded the number of booklets printed and delivered by Wakaman Inc.
- In respect to the procurement and printing of NUR Courses booklets. It is alleged that the number of booklets requested for payment exceeded the number of booklets printed and delivered by Wakaman Inc.
- It was alleged that a number of the third-party quotations from suppliers that were obtained as part of the procurement process involving Wakaman Inc were fake and furthermore that these quotations were manufactured and supplied by Wakaman to SINU officers as part of a flawed procurement process.
- That the procurement and printing of COVID-19 related posters was a flawed process and resulted in losses to SINU.
- That one staff member allegedly helped to facilitate the requests for payments to Wakaman Inc.
- That one staff member allegedly assisted with the facilitation of fast-track payments for allegedly fraudulent claims by Wakaman Inc.
- That the Wakaman Inc payments never went through the established process via the procurement unit for procurement check as per SINU Procurement policy.
- Wakaman Inc payments allegedly never went through the established compliance checks for budgeting, quotation, and other payment compliance checks as per SINU Procurement and Finance policy.
- That payments for Wakaman Inc were raised and paid in either half or one day
Records in Company Haus showed that Wakaman Inc was de-registered in April 2023 for failing to submit due return.
The suspended staff members will be given the opportunity to present their side of the story before any final disciplinary action. The final internal audit will also be the deciding factor for the five suspended staff. Two of the suspended staff are top academics with high standing in the community while the other three are senior staff members of the university. Professor Aqoaru says the suspension of the staff members underscore SINUs commitment to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and ethics within its organisation.
Source: Solomon Islands National University