By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
A MAN has been sentenced to nine years and 10 months after being found guilty of misappropriating K1.1 million belonging to the Western Highlands government.
Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, sitting in the National Court in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands on Wednesday, found Jonah Posa, of Pak Island, Manus, guilty of 36 counts of misappropriation of the money on Jan 3.
Sir Gibbs deducted two months from the sentence for time spent in pre-trial custody.
He has been remanded to serve his sentence at Baisu prison outside Mt Hagen.
According to police, in 2013, anomalies were discovered in the raising of cheques within the Western Highlands treasury.
A routine check of records done by provincial finance manager Timothy Rapula in March 2014 discovered that there were no records kept of money coming in or going out, of cheques being raised and accompanying vouchers and bank records not being consistent with records in treasury and no acquittals were done.
Provincial administrator Joseph Nenge and the Department of Finance were informed and an inquiry was conducted by the department which confirmed the anomalies and non-compliance of procurement procedures under the Public Finance Management Act. The fraud squad was advised and an investigation started.
Posa and three other staff were charged with misappropriation, forgery and uttering of cheques.
Posa was committed to stand trial in the National Court in Mt Hagen, two of the female officers were used as State witnesses after the State filed a Noelle Prosequi.
The trial against Posa started last Feb 10.
After the State closed its case, the defence counsel representing Posa made a no case submission which the State replied and the matter was adjourned to July 5, last year, for a ruling on the submission.
The court ruled that Posa had to answer on 36 counts and found no case to answer on three counts because it could not locate three copies of cheques relating to the three counts. The amount of the three cheques was K118,000, thus, it had to be removed from the total amount and Posa was charged with misappropriating K1,109,015.16.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA