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Senior officials received as much as SBD$188,000 each

Solomon Star - October 11, 2013

Alfred Sasako – New information has emerged that some senior officials on the Prime Minister's recent delegation to Indonesia received as much as USD$25,000 (about SBD$187,500) each, sources have confirmed.

The sources said at least two senior officials (names withheld) received USD$25,000 each or SBD$187,500 each. Three others (names withheld) received USD$10,000 (about SBD$65,000 and two others received USD$5,000 each about SBD$32,500 respectively.

"It seems the level of payment is based on seniority, the higher you are, the more you get," the sources said. Earlier reports have suggested that the 17 people on the delegation had each been given a yellow envelope. But this could not be independently verified as the sources could only confirm five who have received yellow envelopes containing the money.

The sources said some junior officers who for the first time received such huge amounts of money "are pretty scared."

One source said the money was given in yellow envelopes during an official dinner hosted in honor of the Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and his delegation. The sources said the officials went back to their rooms and openly discussed how much each received in their envelopes.

Politicians, including the Prime Minister, however were not seen being given envelopes. Protocols dictate that gifts to Prime Ministers and senior politicians are often delivered to their hotel rooms.

The sources said the money appear to have come from an Indonesian businessman, who could very well be the sponsor of the dinner that night.

It is not clear how the officials who allegedly received the payments brought the money back into the country. Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) regulations require that any amounts over SBD$50,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency must be declared to authorities.

Despite the raging controversy surrounding the initial visit, Prime Minister Lilo ignored the outcry and led another delegation to Bali where members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation met earlier in the week.

Prime Minister Lilo's delegation left Indonesia last Wednesday for Taiwan where he joined the rest of the Solomon Islands' 10-member delegation for Taipei's Double-10 celebrations. The delegation is due back on Monday October 21.