By Sally Pokiton
Maika Bruno, 54 years of age from Rasese village, Namatanai, New Ireland Province returned before Justice David Cannings on Thursday for submission on his penalty sentence.
He was convicted on January 24, 2017 for misappropriating a total of K91,000 to his own use on 4 November 2013 by using NIO monies to pay for legal bills to challenge his removal from office.
He told the court on Thursday that he engaged the legal firm to challenge the revocation of his appointment while he was still in office.
He said he challenged it because he believed there was “dangerous political motivating hijacking” done with the appointment of his successor.
Despite being made known of intentions to have him removed as NIO’s acting director, Bruno said he was never formally notified through a gazette.
Bruno said his actions were to protect the office of the NIO and not his own interest.
He offered to repay the full amount and asked the court for a two year sentence and that sentenced be suspended.
State on the other hand suggested a term of between three and five years in jail and that he serve it concurrent for both counts of misappropriation.
He will return back to court on 23 February where the penalty sentence of the court will be made known to him.
He was found guilty last month for obtaining K55,000 on Nov 4,2015 and applying it to a legal firm the next day for a civil proceeding he commenced in the National Court after he was replaced as the acting as the director of the NIO.
The court found that he drew that cheque despite meeting with Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc and his replacement, Gari Baki on October 29, 2013. During that meeting Sir Manasupe confirmed that the National Executive Council had decided that Bruno would be replaced by Mr Baki.
Bruno went to the law firm concerned that same day and instructed the firm to act for him in his capacity at NIO without the approval of the Attorney General to engage the firm as per the requirement under section 7 of the Attorney General’s Act.
Court also found that on or about Friday November 1, 2013, the law firm engaged, filed an originating summons in the National Court, OS No 573, by which various orders and declarations were sought.
Bruno was also found guilty of obtaining K36,000 from the NIO by false pretense, by authorising the release of the cash monies as special operations allowance for “Operation Black Tee-Shirt”.
Justice Cannings said Bruno’s evidence for the K36,000 was vague and unconvincing as no acquittals were done on the money he received right outside the Bank after it was cashed.