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Marshall Islands auditor: Many reports of ongoing abuse of public office

Regional News
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MAJURO — The past six months has seen over a dozen reports to the Marshall Islands Auditor General’s office of theft from and abuse of government offices.

Auditor General Junior Patrick told Nitijela or parliament last week in his 73rd Semi-Annual Report that since the January report was issued, “we recorded a total of 13 new allegations related to embezzlement, misappropriation of public assets, forgery of government checks, abuse of public office and tax evasion.”

This adds onto the 33 reported incidences of theft of government assets or funds and other illegal conduct in government dating to the August 2018 audit report — a total of 46 reported cases of suspected theft of government money or property, bribery, abuse of public office and check forgery over the past two years, or an average of nearly two reports per month.

The current reporting period, ending last month, the Office of the Auditor General has eight open and active investigations, said Patrick. His office maintains an investigations division that oversees ongoing probes into alleged financial impropriety in government operations.

 “Our investigations continue and the results will 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 proceedings would be appropriate,” Patrick said.

Three Marshall Islanders were charged in the High Court in February this year based on investigations conducted by Patrick’s investigators. But all three criminal cases were filed from 22 months to three years after investigations were conducted and after the individuals charged had left the Marshall Islands and moved to the United States. They were variously charged with stealing and cashing checks from the social security program, theft and misuse of government property, or theft and embezzlement.


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