Probe begins at Alafua Campus
An investigation into the “financial irregularities” and “poor management” of the University of the South Pacific’s Alafua Campus is underway.
This was confirmed by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, during an interview with the Sunday Samoan.
Prof. Pal also confirmed this is why Mohammed Umar – who was taking on the role of Campus Director and Head of School – was placed on leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Professor Siaka Diarra is the acting Head of School.
Dean Faculty of Business and Economic, Professor Arvind Patel, said there are no allegations, but just two internal audit reports that have come out on the campus.
“We have seen some evidence of poor management, irregularities and that we have been making heavy losses every year for the last five years and we want to actually investigate that further,” Prof. Arvind said.
“To do that, it is very important that the person who is charged is put on suspension or goes on leave with pay. He hasn’t done anything wrong; it’s only about the management of IRETA, and the Campus. We have some evidence that money was not banked at the right time and all that, but we look at the management.”
Prof. Pal said at the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Umar will have the opportunity to respond to those allegations, which the investigation team will put formally to him before the university makes the final decision.
“And as I said these are allegations, they are neither proved, and neither not proved. So the question is for them to come up with some concrete allegations and then allow Mr. Umar to make a response to them.
“The investigation is now a couple of weeks and maybe a bit longer. The investigators, we have an internal quality and risk team that does the investigation, and they will be flying to Samoa shortly.
“But currently they are doing a desk audit, as much as they can do, then they will come here to conclude their stuff. I’m hoping they’ll be finishing their investigation within the next six-eight weeks but you can’t always tell.”
In an earlier report, Mr. Mohammed said he was notified by the management team at the Suva Campus in Fiji of the “allegations” against him.
“I asked them what were the allegations and they said they did an audit review, I asked where the report is and they said they cannot give it any time soon. That was not a very good thing," Mr. Mohammed said.
Prof. Pal said the duration of Mr. Umar’s leave depends on the investigation.
“He can be completely exonerated, he would return to work, or the allegations that were directly made, whatever the outcome of that will tell the university what to do next.
“Whether he will resume his two positions after the investigations is a decision we cannot make at this stage, because I don’t know what the outcome of the investigation will be.
“And really, these decisions are generally not made by me, they are made by me ultimately, but they are made via first our vice president for regional campuses, secondly they are made by the Dean of the Faculty which the School of Agriculture reports to.”
Prof. Pal said he is unsure whether Prof. Diarra will take over the role permanently as investigations will determine the next step for the university.
“He has been put in place because we need somebody to act to make sure things are going well, and I have full confidence in Prof. Diara because of course he is the senior most academic in our USP in Samoa.
“He is an Associate Professor and has a very good research record so you know, I have full confidence in his acting position, but no decision can be made until that final report comes. He can only be in an acting position.”