Former Auditor General Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has denied claims by the Public Service Association (PSA) General Secretary that he audited a company of which she was manager and found its financial accounts in order.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa, who is now the Minister of Finance, was responding after Kaniva News published a story on Friday quoting the General Secretary Mele ‘Amanaki as saying Hon Tu’i’onetoa audited her Dairy Processing company.
In a detailed statement to Kaniva News, ‘Amanaki said: “Pohiva Tu’io’netoa, Govt Auditor General at the time, and Tiueti audited the company’s accounts for the alleged period. Pohiva presented the audit report to the Board that funds of the company was in order.”
But the Minister said in Tongan this was not true (“ta’emo’oni”) and said he was not an auditor of Dairy Processing.
He said ‘Amanaki approached him and asked for his help after a complaint was lodged with the government against her and Dairy Processing.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said ‘Amanaki gave him some invoices and after he looked at those they appeared reliable.
The Minister also said as far as he remembered ‘Amanaki told her she had paid back or she was going to pay back the money at the centre of the allegations over the company’s finances.
He said ‘Amanaki asked him to write to the cabinet and asked it to “have mercy” on her case.
The Minister said he then wrote an appeal to the cabinet on her behalf.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said the cabinet rejected his appeal, reprimanded him and told him not to do any audit assessment for her company.
He said it was a “Good Samaritan work” he did for ‘Amanaki and he was not paid for it.
As Kaniva News reported last week, ‘Amanaki was sacked from the dairy company after claims of financial irregularity were made to the then government.
Dairy Processing distributed locally manufactured milk products in 1990s to primary school students in Tongatapu.
The milk products were subsidised by the government through the Ministry of Labour and Commerce.
Our story on Friday was based on an editorial on Kele’a newspaper which claimed that when ‘Amanaki was manager of the Dairy Processing Co. Ltd in the 1990s the company became involved in alleged fraud.
The editorial claimed the company’s records were falsified to show milk was delivered to some schools which did not actually receive any dairy products.
It also claimed two schools were reported by the company to have been supplied with milk, but an investigation found out those schools never existed.
‘Amanaki said claims of financial irregularity had arisen because of the activities of one or two individuals.
‘Amanaki dismissed the allegations as unfounded.
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