Aug 25, 2019 Last Updated 5:21 AM, Aug 23, 2019

The University of the South Pacific has invited four Auckland-based accounting firms to bid for the task of undertaking an independent investigation into allegations by the USP’s current Vice Chancellor and President Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

The allegations are raised in a paper “Issues, Concerns and Breaches of Past Management and Financial Decisions” which questions the circumstances around a number of appointments and financial decisions during the tenure of the previous VC.

Bids to conduct the investigation will close on Monday and the USP’s  Audit and Risk Committee will meet on Tuesday to appoint the investigator.

Meanwhile Fiji’s Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told parliament it wouldn’t be prudent to comment on the matter. Fiji is USP’s largest funder and provides the majority of its students.

Australia’s High Commission in Suva has also declined to comment on the matter.

The report of the Independent Investigator is due by August 16.

For detailed coverage of the controversy at USP, pick up a copy of the June issue of Islands Business.

The final report of an independent investigation into allegations of mismanagement and abuse of process at the University of the South Pacific (USP) is due by August 16.

The terms of reference for the investigation have been drawn up, and sent to Council members for their approval.

In a statement released today, USP’s Deputy Pro-Chancellor Aloma Johansson and the Chair of the USP Audit and Risk Committee Mahmood Khan state that once the TOR is approved, the risk and audit committee will invite several independent investigators to register their interest, with a view to starting the investigation by June 20.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is conducting its own investigation into the allegations, which were first reported by Islands Business  last month.

The allegations are detailed in a lengthy document which questions allegedly speedy appointments and contract renewals for at least eleven senior members of the university staff, most of them Fiji nationals working at the main campus in Suva.

Since the allegations were first aired, USP’s second largest funder, New Zealand’s foreign minister has said his government is asking for explanations over the matter.

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