By Sally Pokiton
Justice David Cannings on Thursday sentenced Maika Bruno, 54 years of age from Rasese village, Namatanai, New Ireland Province to a head sentence of 8 years in jail for two counts of misappropriation.
That sentence was reduced to three years after the judge took into consideration his age, health and the favourable Pre-sentence report from the Probation service.
Despite the accused asking the court for a non-custodial sentence and a set time frame to repay the K91,000, Justice Cannings said no realistic plan was put before the court for repayment and that a deterrent sentence was required.
Bruno 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 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 pretence, 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.