Former Secretary Jailed For Vt5.6M Misappropriation

A former Secretary in the Department of Strategic Management is now behind bars after she admitted to 15 counts of theft.

The court said Marie Kalulu misappropriated more than Vt5.6 million between 1998 and 2002 during her employment in the government office.

Justice Dudley Aru ordered two years as her final sentence but also ruled that part of the sentence be suspended for one year to reflect the failure to take the case to the court.

This has given the chance to the defendant to spend only 12 months in jail and another 12 months has been suspended.

Justice Aru said the matter was reported by the authorities in the Public Service Commission.

He said Kalulu was told that she converted public money for her own personal use and only got caught when an audit report was ordered.

According to the judge, the audit found that there were false receipts produced to conceal the fact that public fund was used for her personal needs.

He said Kalulu convinced her supervisors to approve the expenses and retired the receipts to the Department of Finance – when she was arrested, she admitted falsifying receipts, LPOs and accountable impress and used the money for personal needs.

“You stole public money,” the judge said.

“As an employee of the government, you breached the trust placed on you to safeguard the use of public money within the department that you served.

“Although the monies were taken in small amounts, the total amount stolen from the government is quite substantial.

“Your actions were clearly planned and systematic as you produced false receipts for the monies taken and falsifying LPOs to avoid detection”.

He said that these were repeated over a period of time.

After considering the case, Justice Aru adopted a starting point of five years imprisonment.

Counsel on her behalf and solicitor Pauline Kalwatman submitted that Kalulu is 62-years-old and married with six children and nine grandchildren.

Ms Kalwatman said that the defendant was the only breadwinner at home at the time and due to the pressure of family obligations, she had to steal the money from her employer.

Justice Aru didn’t accept that as a mitigation on the offending and said that the woman was a first-time offender and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

He said Kalulu has shown remorse and recognized from the fact that she was wrong.

Justice Aru deducted one third for the early guilty plea leaving three years but was given another 12 months credit for the remorse and the anxiety endured in the past 16 years for the delay in prosecuting the case, leaving an end sentence of two years.

He then made the order for a year to be suspended for a year and the other 12  months to be served with immediate effect.

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