Home Uncategorized UNCOVERING FRAUD AND CORRUPTION AT THE SOLOMON ISLANDS NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

UNCOVERING FRAUD AND CORRUPTION AT THE SOLOMON ISLANDS NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

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As the current SINU Saga seems to be played out in the public domain – print media and social media, it is imperative for the University Management to inform the public, especially the tax payers of this country, that all has not been well at SINU for many years, some rot even extending to the SICHE days.

In 2018, the University Council decided to create an internal audit section at SINU to ensure that, inter alia, all processes and activities were compliant with law and policies. HR was tasked to implement this decision. However, other than one attempt in 2018, no further steps were taken to create this office. In 2019, the new Management created this office. Some staff expressed their unhappiness with this by misleading the public through the media. Management pursued, and a number of University activities and processes were identified for internal audit. These included an IT contract which was not delivering what SINU had signed for, Payroll, Procurement, Security, etc.

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Audits revealed a number of weaknesses, as well as outright fraud at SINU.

The IT contract matter was successfully brought to a conclusion after the audit, with good relations again being established between the supplier and SINU, with changes on the project management team both SINU’s end as well as at the side of the supplier.

The Payroll audit established the existence of massive fraud in payroll; Management is in the process of implementing the recommendations made. It is, thus, no surprise that some of the leading advocates in misleading staff and students as well as those who were behind adverse publicity involving the internal auditor in 2019, are those who are implicated in fraudulent conduct. More details on these will be released in due course. But for now, simply put, this clique did not want any internal audit at SINU, and deliberately and systematically were undermining the Council’s decision on establishing an Internal Audit unit.

In another case dealt with by the Internal Audit section, it was found that a senior staff of SINU, with the support of junior staff, was ordering goods using SINU documents, but receiving goods for his personal purposes. The concerned officer has been dismissed from the University following due processes.

Another investigation is ongoing where there are suspicions that some SINU staff have been collaborating with outside entities to defraud the Government of Solomon Islands of significant sums, estimated to run into millions of dollars, in duty.

At the start of the 2020 academic year, reports reached management that there were cases of fraud and corruption at the student services section. Management set up a Committee to investigate the reports. The investigation revealed fraud and corruption, involving staff as well as a few senior Student Union office holders; the immediate perpetrator was dismissed following due processes. The investigation also revealed alarming evidences of corruption and fraud, which Management is now dealing with.

Earlier during this year, the MEHRD carried out an investigation on SIG scholarship awards. This investigation revealed that fake scholarship letters were issued, which defrauded the SIG of hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. Investigations revealed that over the last two years over 60 students were attending SINU with fake scholarships. Amongst others, the report has implicated SINU students and staff. SINU is in the process of dealing with this fraud and corruption.

A number of other matters of grave concern are being dealt with now. Needless to say, these involve some staff, who have been carrying out unethical, corrupt and fraudulent practices at SINU for a number of years. Management is obliged to deal with these and put an end to such practices, which harm SINU students, the SIG, parents, and the tax payers. These also bring significant disrepute to SINU as a University.

We also wish to emphasise that a majority of SINU’s staff are hard-working and committed to the welfare of students and the University. Unfortunately a handful of corrupt staff have been misleading them with mis-information.

It was the intention of Management to deal with corruption, fraud, etc., firmly but quietly, without shaking the confidence of the public in SINU as an institution. But given the recent spate of mis-information going out through the media, including social media, SINU Management is now considering making all cases of fraud, nepotism, corruption and incompetence public. The only thing which has prevented Management from taking this step is that such public washing of dirty laundry does not do good to an institution.

  • By SINU MANAGEMENT
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