Marshall fraud investigations multiply

27 Sep 2019 By Giff Johnson - For Variety

MAJURO The number of investigations by the Marshall Islands Office of the Auditor General into fraudulent activity by government officials tripled in the first half of 2019 compared to the January six-month report to Nitijela or parliament, according to information in the latest Semi-Annual audit report delivered to Nitijela earlier this month.
A total of 13 new allegations of theft of government money, bribery, and abuse of public office are currently under investigation by the Office of the Auditor General.

This adds to the four investigations into embezzlement and using public office for personal gain reported in January and the 10 investigations into embezzlement, abuse of public office, and check forgery listed in the August 2018 semi-annual report.

This is a total of 27 investigations by the auditor general into fraudulent activity in government over the past 18 months.

“We continue our reviews into all allegations that are reported to the office including those that we come across in our audit engagements,” said Auditor General Junior Patrick in his introduction to the latest report. “During this reporting period we recorded a total of 13 new allegations related to embezzlement/misappropriation, bribery and abuse of public office.”

Patrick said a shortage of staff investigators meant they could not investigate all allegations immediately. “Few allegations are being looked at while others were added to the growing listing of pending investigations,” he said. “These allegations will be looked into as soon as staff are available.”

He said his office will continue investigations into allegations brought forward to his office, “and results to be referred directly to the attorney general when we have grounds to believe that criminal laws have been violated and other instances where civil recovery proceeding would be appropriate.” There have not been any criminal charges filed in the High Court by the government for embezzlement, bribery or abuse of public office in the last year.

Patrick said they will also refer matters “requiring administrative proceedings to the appropriate authorities in accordance with the revised Audit Act.”
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