It has been revealed that a company owned by the Deputy Chairman of the Solomon Islands National University Council, Tony Koraua, was awarded a contract of more than half-a-million dollars to supply desktops and other accessories to the university last year.
Documents obtained by this magazine shows Teejay Holding Ltd, whose managing director is Koraua, was awarded a total contract of $567,056.41. The SINU Tender Board Committee at its meeting in February 2019 awarded Teejay Holdings Ltd the contract to supply desktops amounting to $541, 656.41 and a further $25, 400 for installation/commission of 10KVA UPS and overhead project.
Those who delivered the documents to SBMOnline argued that as a councilor of the university, Koraua should never be given any contracts by SINU, as it is a classic example of conflict of interest.
“We believe it is one reason why the board was never fair in its decisions in the current saga between SINU vice-chancellor and the two unions representing the staff. They will protect the VC for their interests,” said those who provided the information.
They demand that Koraua be suspended from the Council because he’s not neutral in the current saga.
But speaking exclusively to SBMOnline, Koraua argued that he has done nothing wrong.
He confirmed receiving the contract but pointed out that it was awarded to his company well before the current VC Dr. Ganesh Chand took office.
Koraua stated that he had declared his interest to the Council and they knew well before he took up the job with SINU that his former employer (Daltron) had been a supplier to the university. Besides that he argued that he had declared his interest that he owns a company and it is legally registered.
He said in his eight years at SINU this was the only contract that he was given.
“Also I had never used my position to influence the outcome of the tender process. I stayed out all together and at no time I influenced the SINU tender board to award the contract to me,” Koraua said last night.
He said the award was based on merit as seen by the board.
“I don’t know why they are picking on me but I can state that my company is registered and I am also a preferred supplier for the government and other big companies,” he explained to SBMOnline.
Koraua reiterated that the award was given to him before the current VC arrived.
When asked if he’s willing to step aside because of the accusations of conflict of interest, Koraua said he’s willing to— but he insisted that he has done nothing wrong as he had declared his interest and his company is legally registered and has all the rights to apply for tenders at the university.
The current VC vs. SINU unions is now before the court as the university is appealing the Trade Dispute Panel awards, one of which is for the legal advisor to the university to advise the council to suspend Dr. Chand.
The two university unions had been demanding the removal of the VC for alleged corruption at the university.
SBMOnline understands that the VC including expat staff at the university is still not allowed to enter their offices because of work permit issues.