USP invites Auckland based firms to bid for an independent investigator

The University of the South Pacific is seeking independent investigators to look into past management issues which was brought to light earlier this year through media reports.

USP has sent out invitations to four Auckland based Chartered Accounting Firms with International Affiliations to bid for the Independent Investigation into the matters related to the Paper by the current Vice Chancellor and President Prof. Pal Ahluwalia titled ‘Issues, Concerns and Breaches of Past Management and Financial Decisions”.

The bid will close on Monday 24th June 2019 and the Audit and Risk Committee meets on Tuesday 25th of June 2019 to consider the Bids and confirm the appointment of an Independent Investigator.

The Independent Investigator is required to present their report by mid-August,2019.

Services at the Niue campus as confirmed by Director Seone Lolesio will not be affected by the ongoing investigations.

Meanwhile, the staff of the University of the South Pacific at the university’s main campus in Suva have called for Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson to step aside to allow for an independent investigation into alleged abuse and mismanagement to proceed.

Islands Business reports this was one of three demands USP staff made in a petition they presented today to the university’s senior management team.

The petition was signed by 500 staff members comprising academic and administrative, and addressed to Pro Chancellor Thompson, who’s also the university council chair, as well as to his deputy chair Aloma Johansson of Tonga, council members and the university’s vice chancellor and president, Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

Demand number two in the petition calls for Pro Chancellor Thompson to “be recused from Council chair immediately,” adding “his public defence of those implicated in the allegations is premature and unprofessional and compromises his position as Chair.

“Furthermore, his recent public statements against VC&P Pal Ahluwalia are unprofessional, prejudicial and damaging to the University.”

To regional governments who are owners of the USP, as well as donor partners “especially Australia and New Zealand,” university staff in their petition wanted them to ensure that the investigation into the alleged abuses would be fair, thorough and remedial actions effected.

University staff are closely watching the investigation process being led by the USP audit and risk committee. The committee is headed by Mahmood Khan, a Fiji Government nominee to the USP Council, and a chartered accountant who used to work in New Zealand.

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