Thursday, 31 July 2008 7:09 AM

Police Probe CEO Bonus Pay

The Police have confirmed to have formally received a complaint about the payment of more than half a million dollars, as bonus paid by Our Telekom Company in an off-shore arrangement, to its outgoing CEO Martyn Robinson.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office told the Express that the Prime Minister Dr. Derek Sikua directed the matter to the Police after receiving the complaint from local Telekom workers in a letter sent to him and his Finance Minister last week.

Acting Police Commissioner Peter Marshall confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Police received the formal referral of the complaint to the Police on Monday.
Marshall said that the Police was now in the process of "looking at aspects" of the complaint raised to see if there is any evidence of offending for possible police investigation. He would not comment any further on the matter "at this stage."

While the local Telekom workers have raised different issues relating to the payment, the possibility of the payment breaching the country's tax laws is an aspect in which the police and the Inland Revenue are likely to be looking at.

The request for the police investigation relates to a bonus payment of USD$82,000 (SBD$640,000) paid to Robinson from Telekom's account in Vanuatu direct to his personal bank account in the UK.

The payment was made on the 3rd of July 2008 just after the striking indigenous Telekom workers returned to work from their two week strike in support of the call for the immediate removal of Robinson.

Our Telekom Chairman, John Beverly, and Telekom Financial Controller John Bodkin sent instructions to the Westpac Bank in Vanuatu to pay the money out of Our Telekom Westpac Bank account, direct to his personal bank account in the UK.
No tax was taken out of the bonus and when the Express contracted Robinson about the fact that the bonus was paid as a gross amount and not taxed, he told the Express that the tax would be paid at the end of the year.

Robinson's response of the bonus money would be taxed at the end of the year, raises the question as to who would actually pay the tax; Robinson or Our Telekom would pay the tax on behalf of Robinson.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank has told the National Express that under the Bank's Foreign Exchange Control Regulations, if Robinson's bonus were to be transferred through any commercial bank in Solomon Islands, a tax certificate of the amount must be presented to the Central Bank before the money is transferred.