Public Report on the appointment of Maurice Michel to the Public Service and to the position of Auditor General – March 6, 1997 - Emalus Campus
The Auditor General is a Constitutional Office holder in Vanuatu. Until June 1994, the position was occupied for approximately 6 years by Mr. P. Tosusu. At that time the Public Service Department advertised the position although there had been no suggestion that the incumbent was not suitable. Mr. Tosusu was the only applicant. The position was re-advertised in November 1994. Mr. Tosusu again, was the sole applicant.
Mr. Maurice Michel at the time was working within the Public Service as the Principal Management Officer. His appointment to that position had been made improperly in 1992 by the former Prime Minister, Maxime Carlot Korman and the former Acting Prime Minister, Sethy Regenvanu. In September 1994, Mr. Michel requested a “transfer” to the post of Auditor General.
Mr. Michel’s request for a transfer (a short handwritten letter) was treated as an application and although he was considered along with the application of Mr. Tosusu, he was hired as Auditor General by the Public Service Commission in April 1995. In May, 1996, Mr. Michel was improperly paid severance pay with respect to his departure from his prior post of Principal Management Officer.
The Ombudsman’s report observes that Mr. Michel had a criminal conviction and had served 6 months’ imprisonment in 1992. The Public Service Manual stipulates that a person with a criminal conviction shall not be hired for a position with the Public Service within 4 years of the conviction. The hiring was therefore improper in this regard. Further, Mr. Michel’s experience in accounting amounted to that of a book-keeper and not an accountant. The advertisement for the position required someone with a professional accounting qualification or a related degree and experience in supervising an audit department. Mr. Michel had neither.
Mr. Michel’s hiring as Auditor General resulted from the political influence of the former Prime Minister, Maxime Carlot Korman. The Public Service Commission and the Public Service Department are also responsible for the improper hiring of Mr. Michel by not seeking a police record as required, by hiring Mr. Michel when he did not have the minimum qualifications and experience and by not acting independently. The former Prime Minister and the members of the Public Service Commission breached the Leadership Code
· That the Public Service Department and the Public Service Commission recruit an Auditor General in accordance with the law.
· That Mr. Michel repay his severance pay.
· That the President reprimand the former Prime Minister with respect to his improper interference with the hiring of Mr. Michel.
· That the hiring practice of the Public Service Commission cease to require the recommendation of a Minister (which requirement had been imposed by Mr. Maxime Carlot Korman when he was Prime Minister in 1992.)
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj