Cabinet suspends defence secretary

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, December 16, 2010

DEFENCE secretary Fred Punangi has been suspended.
Cabinet ordered his suspension over allegations of mal-administration and misuse of funds.
Government documents and National Gazette G290, dated Dec 7, 2010, stated that Punangi was suspended on full pay pending the outcome of an investigation.
Cabinet also appointed Defence deputy secretary Billy Porykali as the acting secretary.
The National Executive Council also directed for an investigation team to be appointed within 90 days to probe the allegations against Punangi.
Public Service Minister Moses Maladina, when contacted yesterday, said he had been informed of the NEC decision.
However, he could not elaborate on the suspension, saying it was only his first day in office since taking up the appointment.
Treasurer and former public service minister Peter O’Neill, who submitted to cabinet to have Punangi suspended, told The National yesterday that the action was taken to allow for an investigation into allegations over Defence Department spending.
O’Neill said the allegations had been ongoing.
Department sources yesterday welcomed the investigations, adding that the government had, at last, taken notice of the problems at defence and was taking action to put the organisation back on track.
Several attempts to contact Porykali and Defence Minister Bob Dadae were unsuccessful.