13 June, 2023 [Honiara, Solomon Islands] – The Vice Chancellor of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU), Professor Transform Aqorau, today has taken decisive action in response to allegations of fraud activities involving printing by Wakaman Inc by suspending five Staff of the University with immediate effect pending the finalization of an Internal Audit investigation conducted with the support of the National
Crimes Unit and Janus Task Force.
Professor Aqorau said “following a thorough investigation that spanned seven months, SINU has suspended five staff members implicated in the alleged fraudulent practices. The investigation, initiated in December 2022, was prompted by reports of irregularities and financial discrepancies related to printing services provided by Wakaman Inc, a company that does not own a printing machine”.
Professor Aqorau said, “SINU, committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and accountability, took the allegations seriously and launched a comprehensive inquiry into the matter. The allegation are that:
● Wakaman Inc alleged was a fake company established with intent purposely to defraud SINU funds.
● Wakaman inflated 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 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 allegedly helped to facilitate the requests for payments to Wakaman Inc.
● That one staff the 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.
Professor Aqorau said “as a result of the investigation, evidence was uncovered suggesting the involvement of certain staff members in fraudulent activities pertaining to printing contracts awarded to Wakaman Inc..
In light of the seriousness of the allegations and the potential violation of SINU’s code of conduct, the decision to suspend the implicated staff members has been made pending the completion of the investigation. The suspended staff members will be afforded due process and given an opportunity to present their side of the story before any final disciplinary action is taken. SINU remains committed to ensuring a fair and unbiased investigation, providing the accused individuals with a chance to be heard and offering them the opportunity to respond to the allegations in an appropriate manner” Professor Aqorau said, “the suspension of these staff members underscores SINU’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and ethics within its organization. The university views any form of misconduct, especially fraudulent activities, as a grave violation of its values and principles. As an institution of higher learning, SINU places great importance on fostering an environment of integrity and accountability.
SINU acknowledges the gravity of the situation and assures its stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, and the wider community, that it will continue to prioritize transparency and fairness throughout the investigation process. The University will take all necessary steps to address the issue appropriately and ensure that justice is served.”
Professor Aqorau added that “SINU remains resolute in its commitment to delivering quality education and upholding its reputation as a premier institution of higher learning in the Solomon Islands.
The University will not tolerate any actions that undermine its core values or compromise the trust placed in it by its stakeholders. The outcome of the investigation, including any disciplinary actions taken, will be communicated to the public once the investigation is concluded, and all parties involved have been duly heard and accorded fair treatment.
Issued by the VC’s Office, SINU