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Premier Forau arrested & charged

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Premier Forau
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Premier of Temotu Province Clay Forau Soalaoi was arrested and charged today with 14 charges of conversion relating to his time as the MP for Vatud Constituency.

He appeared in court this afternoon and was ordered to pay $2,000 cash bail.

The charges were related to agriculture funds dating back to 2012. The complainants were his former constituents.

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Details of the case

Documents of the case showed that Forau who was the MP for Vatud then since winning the 2010 National Election received funding from the government for Cocoa and Coconut projects.

It states that in 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture submitted to Cabinet budgets for Cocoa Support Project and Coconut Rehabilitation. The submitted proposal budges were later increased to $16, 700, 000 for each project. The project was passed in Parliament and programmes were approved for implementation in 2012.

The Cabinet gave directions through the ministry of agriculture and livestock to allocate $12.5m for the cocoa industry and for coconut rehabilitation to receive $16.7m.

The documents show that the the ministry of agriculture and livestock formulated agreement for the monitoring and evaluation of the funds. Based on that, the agreement needs to be signed by the MP, CDO before funds are transferred to the constituency account.

In 2012, 48 constituencies had entered into the partnership agreement with the ministry of agriculture and livestock, in this instance, Temotu Vatud received $186, 759. 00 for coconut rehabilitation and $164, 131 for coconut support programme.

The beneficiaries of the agreement were farmers and traders of cocoa. According to the partnership agreement an agricultural extension officer was to be involved in the project to identify the farmers and trades who have the right to the assistance.

However, the supposed beneficiaries stated that they never received the funding or benefits from the funding.

On the 27th of September 2014, a report from the criminal investigation was raised by one of the complainants. It was raised on behalf of the 12 coconut and cocoa farmers of the Vatud Constituency for the cocoa and coconut funding.

In Court today

Premier Forau is in Honiara on official business when he was arrested and charged by the police.

He was given strict bail conditions amongst them is to report to Lata Police Station once a week.

He’s to appear appear in court on 17 August.

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