A-G suspends senior officials

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday October 28th, 2013

 THE Auditor-General’s office has been thrown into chaos following the suspension of three senior auditors last Wednesday. 

Auditor-General Philip Nauga had earlier sacked another senior officer.

Nauga’s actions have prompted staff of the constitutional office to call on the Ombudsman Commission to intervene and carry out an urgent investigation into serious allegations of misconduct against him.

Nauga was not available for comment when contacted last Friday but it is understood that a detailed report on the allegations, a copy of which was obtained by The National, was sent to the Ombudsman Commission last week. 

The staff asked that the Chief Justice appoint a tribunal to inquire into the allegations.

They asked that suspended deputy auditor general Thomas Holland be appointed acting auditor general pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Auditor-General’s Office is responsible for auditing all public and government accounts and is understood to be in the middle of auditing the District 

Services Improvement Programme (DSIP) funds.

Nauga took the action against four of his most experienced auditors, who between them have up to 100 years of experience.

Deputy auditors general Thomas Holland and Peter Siperau, and senior officer Gabriel Koh, were suspended last Thursday following the sacking of deputy auditor-general Albert Monave in August.

Nauga issued suspension letters to the three officers on Oct 23 “in respect of certain offences that you are alleged to have committed”.

He ordered them to return all office access cards, all official keys to files and offices and all other files or papers relating to the office.

The four officers met with former auditor-general George Sullimann last weekend to discuss the matter.

Sulliman said the reasons for the suspension and termination were “very shallow”.

“They were alleged to have been involved in newspaper articles in early 2012 in which some allegations were made against the attorney-general,” he said.

“He suspected them of being involved in that.”

He added that the reasons for Monave’s termination were vague.

“Albert’s (Monave) removal was on very shaky charges,” Sulliman said.

Koh, Siperau and Monave said they were bewildered by Nauga’s actions.

‘What is of concern, in my view, is that the Office of Auditor-General is the prime promoter of accountability and good governance in this country,” Koh said.

“What is of concern is that the person in charge is not demonstrating that.”

Monave said his suspension and eventual termination was “vindictive and biased”.

Siperau said there was no basis for his suspension.