Accounting firm BDO Auckland has been picked to conduct a special investigation into alleged mismanagement and abuse charges at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

USP’s Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) met last week Tuesday to evaluate  bids to conduct the special investigation from three Auckland firms. A fourth firm was invited to tender, but did not do so.

“The three bids were put through a rigorous evaluation by the members of the ARC using the structured evaluation template that was included in the Bid document and [the] ARC selected BDO Auckland as the successful Bidder,” a statement released from USP today says.

The BDO report is due by August 16.

The USP ARC also confirmed that their Chairman Mahmood Khan declared a conflict of interest at the start of the bidding process and excused himself from the meeting room. Khan retired as a Partner/Director of BDO Northland (NZ) on 31 December 2016.

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

Staff of the University of the South Pacific at the university’s main campus in Suva have called for USP Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson to step aside to allow for the investigation to proceed independently.