The Commission of Inquiry into Payments made to Lawyers and Law firms had its 2nd hearing today.
Appearing for the Inquiry today was Deputy Secretary for the Department of Finance, Sam Penias.
The Deputy Secretary gave a rundown on the process and procedures involved in how legal brief outs are made to law firms.
The Department of Finance represented by the Deputy Secretary presented to the Inquiry the process and procedures that the department follows in paying legal bills.
The Inquiry was told that brief outs for legal bills are state liabilities and separate funding is made available under the department of Justice and Attorney General.
The Inquiry was informed that in the event that funding is not available under this department, assistance is made available by the Department of Finance.
In order for Finance to assist, request has to come from the Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Secretary and not from individual law firms.
The Inquiry was also told that request from all law firms are referred to the Attorney General’s office for legal verification and further approval.
All court ordered funds cannot be used to settle legal bills unless prior approval is obtained from the Attorney General’s Office.
Records for all legal bills paid in the last 2 years will be made available to the Inquiry by next Monday.
The Inquiry was adjourned for the 9th of September where arrangements have been made for Justice Secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe to appear.
A notice was also issued by Counsel Assisting Commissioner for Secretary for Finance Dr Ken Nanagan to appear on the 10th of next month.
A total of 11 exhibits were tendered this morning at the Inquiry including the 2009 Commission of Inquiry in the Finance Department.
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