New Zealand High Commission Nuku'alofa, Tonga

All New Zealand Funds Accounted For

19 January 2012

All New Zealand funds provided to Tonga's Constitutional and Electoral Reform programme have been accounted for.

An independent audit late last year found no evidence of fraud in the programme but identified poor record-keeping leading to some money being inadvertently used for other Government purposes. The balance of New Zealand funds were returned to New Zealand on 18 January.

Tongan Auditor-General Pohiva Tui’onetoa said, “I confirm that all donor money related to the Constitutional and Electoral Reform programme has been accounted for. Investigations into Government of Tonga funds will continue. ” 

Jonathan Austin, New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, said, “we are satisfied that there is no evidence of fraudulent use of New Zealand money. The Tongan authorities’ investigations into the use of Government of Tonga money in the Prime Minister’s Office is a matter for them.”

“New Zealand’s support for the CER programme was a major contributor to Tonga’s successful constitutional and democratic reform process. This support assisted with Tonga’s peaceful transition to democracy in its historic 2010 election.”

Notes to Editors

  • New Zealand provided NZ$1,360,362 from December 2008 to June 2011 to support Tonga's democratic transition. Money was used to help the establishment of Tonga's Constitutional and Electoral Commission and its work to identify new roles for various parts of Tonga's new democracy. Money also assisted in drafting of new legislation, civic education, a public referendum, and preparations for the 2010 election. 
  • In November 2010 the New Zealand High Commission met with government of Tonga officials to raise concerns regarding discrepancies in the CER programme financial reports. 
  • In June 2011 the Auditor General provided the High Commission and Prime Minister’s Office with a copy of his preliminary report into the financial management of CER. This report identified several discrepancies. A final report was provided on 31 October. 
  • Upon receipt of this report New Zealand High Commission contracted the services of an independent auditor to further investigate the areas of concern identified in the Auditor-General’s report. 
  • The final report from the independent auditor was received by the NZ High Commission on 23 November 2011. Discussions with Tongan officials resulted in the return of unspent funds under the programme on 18 January 2012. 

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