Thu. Feb 27th, 2020

Pohnpei files claims against four former government employees

POHNPEI, 22 JUNE 2017 (MARIANAS VARIETY) — Pohnpei’s Office of the Attorney General has filed a claim against four former employees of Pohnpei State.

The state is seeking to recover financial damages for payments for unauthorized overtime in the amount that the claims say the State will prove in court. [restrict]

The claim is based on audit findings on Pohnpei’s payroll system for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, conducted by the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor in 2013. Its finding and subsequent compliance investigation support was handed over to the Attorney General’s Office but it failed to act at that time.

The audit said that during those years the government overran its budget for overtime expenses by US$164,247.52. The audit reported that the judicial branch of the government had no overtime expenses for the 34 employees who worked in that branch during the audit period. The legislative branch had 64 employees and overran its overtime budget by US$7,756.13. The executive branch had 1,180 employees and overran its overtime budget by US$149,165.51.

US$145,336.35 of the entire government’s overtime budget overrun was for just one department — the Department of Treasury and Administration and US$100,670.53 of that amount was for only five employees within DOTA who together were paid 9,172.5 hours overtime pay in addition to their regular time hours during the course of the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.

The Department of Public Safety and the Audit Office Compliance Investigation Unit conducted a joint investigation which resulted in a report being submitted to the Office of the Attorney General on Feb. 11, 2014. The investigation report concluded that possible breaches of the Financial Management Regulations, the Pohnpei Public Service System Regulations, and the Pohnpei Criminal Code existed and recommended that the Office of the Attorney General take action. The office did not take action at that time and by the time the current AG received a report from Pohnpei OPA on Aug. 31, 2016, the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution for the matters had lapsed.

But the Pohnpei Code provides a six-year statute of limitation for the commencement of a civil action. On April 21, the Office of the Attorney General filed a civil complaint against two employees who formerly worked at the Department of Treasury and Administration and a motion to amend answer to permit filing a counterclaim against two other former employees who sued the government following their termination of employment.

The complaints seek recovery for payment of overtime hours in excess of amounts authorised.

The defendants in the civil actions are Angeline Neth, Francine Poll, Andrew Joseph, and Frankie Albert. The claims are for alleged breach of fiduciary duty…..PACNEWS [/restrict]