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Ponia investigation to end this month

Friday May 18, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

The investigation into Ministry of Marine resources secretary Ben Ponia will “wrap up” at the end of the month, says Public Service Commissioner Russell Thomas.

In response to an enquiry about the long-running investigation from CINews, Thomas revealed that Ponia would continue to receive full pay until decisions were made about the outcome. 

The MMR head stood down from his position when the investigation was first announced early in April.

However, MMR has been tight-lipped about the reason for the suspension and Thomas has only said that it has nothing to do with stealing, dishonesty or corruption.

It is the second time the MMR head has been suspended. In 2015 there was an inquiry into Ponia’s involvement in an “incident” at an upmarket Auckland hotel during an international conference.

That inquiry resulted in Ponia being given a warning. He was also banned from travelling overseas in an official capacity until June that year.

Last month the present investigation was criticised as being flawed because Ponia and Thomas are related, which one commentator said cast doubt on the Public Service Commissioner’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation.

However prime minister Henry Puna, who is also related to Ponia, told CINews he saw no conflict of interest.

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