HONIARA (ABC) — A pyramid scheme which allegedly fleeced Solomon Islanders of thousands of dollars has found itself at the receiving end after AUD$50,000 (US$38,604) of its takings were stolen from police custody.

Solomon Islands’ Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau has vowed to bring those responsible to justice with one police officer suspended, as investigations continue.

The case has shocked the public and the head of anti corruption watchdog Transparency Solomon Islands Ruth Liloqula said it has tarnished the reputation of police in the country.

“Police officers need to know what their role and responsibilities are and the need for them to pay special attention to their reputation and credibility,” she said.

One Link Pacifica made headlines last year and picked up hundreds of followers by promising big returns to investors, despite warnings from the Solomon Islands’ Central Bank.

The scheme’s director was arrested on 33 counts of false pretence and his case is currently before the courts.

Australian National University researcher Dr John Cox said schemes like One Link work by telling followers that “government is corrupt and keeping all the money for themselves”.

Dr Cox, who has researched ponzi schemes and financial scams in Melanesia, said the theft is dangerous as it reinforces what followers would have been told about government corruption.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has been the subject of major reforms since 2003, funded by hundreds of millions of Australian tax payers’ dollars.

But Liloqula said incidents like the missing evidence raises question over the standard of policing in the country.

“One wonders about the amount of capacity building that has gone into police and yet we still having this, there needs to be a special work to be done on what is really going and what capacity building is needed,” she said.

Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau was unavailable for comment…. PACNEWS

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