Tuesday, 22 May 2007 6:44 PM

Former Finance Minister charged with corruption

Francis Zama has been sentenced to 20 months jail for official corruption although Zama made a belated payment of the sum owed under the Stamp Duties Act.

Mr Zama has been charged with one count of official corruption for unlawfully obtaining SBD$26,520 through a stamp duty exemption when he was finance minister under the Kemakeza government.

Solomons Magistrate John Myers stated during sentencing that he had held a position of trust at the highest government level and his offence was a cynical attempt to obtain personal gain at the expense of Solomons citizens. "Citizens whose interests the defendant had sworn to represent and uphold," Myers said. Accordingly, a significant term of imprisonment had to be imposed, he said.

The government backbencher and MP for South New Georgia/Rendova remains on bail pending the outcome of his High Court appeal against the sentence, a local newspaper reported today.

The magistrate said he reduced the prison term from two years to take into account Zama's lack of prior convictions and his late show of remorse.