Civil servant sentenced for TP$70,000 fraud

The Supreme Court has sentenced civil servant Lesieli Halafihi to three years and three months in prison for defrauding the government of more than TP$70,000.

Mr Justice Cato said the offending was a serious breach of codes.

“The sum  involved  by Tongan standards is significant,” he said.

“The starting point for this offending, must reflect the higher maximum penalty Parliament laid down in order  to foster high standards  of ethical behaviour  by government servants so that government  business is not  adversely compromised  by dishonest practices especially by senior civil servants.”

The supreme court was told that Halafihi, as chief cashier for the Ministry of Finance in the Vava’u branch, stole TP$72, 500.42.

Various false entries were made in books of account which an audit revealed. None of this money  has been repaid. 

“At all material times, the prisoner had access to the books of account and the money for which she was responsible.

Mr Justice Cato suspended the final six months of Halafihi’s sentence

“She is a first   offender with two children,” he said.

“I consider that there is more to be gained in her case from a rehabilitative aspect by suspending at least a part of her sentence so she can be united with her children sooner.”

The main points

  • The Supreme court has sentenced civil servant Lesieli Halafihi to three years and three months in prison for defrauding the government of more than TP$70,000.
  • Mr Justice Cato said the offending was a serious breach of codes.

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