The Public Service Association (PSA) General Secretary has hit back after the former Auditor General denied he audited a controversial dairy company of which she was the manager.
Mele ‘Amanaki was responding after former Auditor General Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa rejected her claim on Kaniva News that he and another auditor, Tiofilusi Tiueti, had audited her company because of an alleged fraud.
In an online interview, ‘Amanaki said perhaps Hon Tu’i’onetoa, who is now the Minister of Finance, had forgotten.
But Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva News to let ‘Amanaki know he would accept her claim only if she could show us a copy of the audit report she claimed he did for her company.
When ‘Amanaki was asked for a copy of the controversial audit report she said she had left it at the company before she left.
When we asked if it was Hon Tu’i’onetoa who did the audit or auditor Tiueti, she said it was the government’s auditor who did the audit. She said it was Tiueti who did the work and inspected the company’s record before giving the outcomes to Tu’i’onetoa, as he was the boss, so he could create a report on it.
She said Hon Tu’i’onetoa also presented the report to the company’s board.
When pressed with a yes or no question to confirm whether Hon Tu’i’onetoa was involved in any audit assessment of her company ‘Amanaki did not reply yes or no. Instead, she said in Tongan:
“koe founga ngaue ia ‘ae ‘Ofisi e Atita Senialee ‘ae Pule’anga Tongaa. Koe ‘Atita Seniale ‘oku ne fai e audit ‘ae Ngaahi Potungaue ‘ae Puleangaa he tu’u ‘ae Laoo. Pea moe ngaahi kautaha ‘ae Pule’angaa kapau e kole he Pule’angaa. Oku iai ene kau ngaue pea kokinautolu oku oo ‘o fai e sivi e financial records.”
This translates into English as: “That’s the Auditor General’s office of the government of Tonga’s procedure. It is the Auditor General who did the audit of the Departments according to the law. And the government’s organisation if there was a request by the government.
“They report to the Auditor General who puts together the report and sign its. The staff never sign the report. When presenting the audit reports to Cabinet, Parliament and Boards [it was the auditor general who did it] unless he is overseas and [it was his deputy]”
She was then reminded that Hon Tu’i’onetoa has denied her claim and wanted to clear his name on this issue.
‘Amanaki was then again pressed with the yes or no question and asked whether or not she saw Hon Tu’i’onetoa in her office in his official capacity inspecting her company’s financial records
‘Amanaki did not reply yes or no. Instead she said in Tongan:
“Koia na’a ne fekau ene taha ngauee ke alu fai he sivii pea koia na’a ne fa’u e audit report ‘o fakapaasi e audit report mo present kihe Board. ….Kae heilo kia Tiofilusi pe na’e alu ange a Pohiva ke na ngaue po’uli he naa ku tuku pe a Tiofilusi o ngaue mo emau accountant.”
This translates into English as: “He was the one who sent his staff to do the inspection and he was the one who created the report, approved it and presented to the board. But I did not know about Tiofilusi if he went to Tu’i’onetoa and worked with him during night time as I left Tiofilusi to work with our accountant.”
She finally replied yes to our yes or no question, but this time she said she saw the audit report signed by Hon Tu’i’onetoa and a letter by the auditor confirming “that they have checked the financial record keeping of the company to be in order and according to the international auditing standards. I even heard him presenting the very same report to the Board.”
“But seeing Tu’i’onetoa’s signature on an audit report does not mean he did the official inspection of your company’s financial account and transaction. Do you agree?”
“No, I don’t agree. He stated in his covering letter that he has CHECKED, he did check. Unless he has been lying in all his audit reports? And should be disqualified as an auditor?”
Titiuti told Kaniva News he never kept copies of any audit work. When asked on Facebook messenger this morning whether it was true or not he and Hon Tu’i’onetoa audited ‘Amanaki’s Dairy Processing company he did not respond.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said since the Cabinet made the decision against ‘Amanaki and her company, he later heard her repeatedly telling news media the decision was wrong because he, as the Auditor General, had performed an audit and found out there was no falsification of invoices by his company to defraud the government.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said ‘Amanaki was not telling the truth.
He said it was rare for the government’s Auditor General to present an audit report to a Board of Directors of a company. Normally the Auditor General would only present a report to a big company in a very serious matter.
He said ‘Amanaki’s case was not serious enough for the Auditor General to present a report on it to its board.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said he has been silent on ‘Amanaki’s claims for a long time and when he saw it again on Kaniva news last week he thought it was about time for him to speak out.
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