The High Court of Solomon Islands. Photo credit: SIBC.

The High Court of Solomon Islands. Photo credit: SIBC.

A hearing into the case pertaining to the purchase and ownership of MV Small Mala was conducted at the High Court.

Matthew Jerry Hite filed the case against the Member of Parliament for Small Malaita Rick Hou, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Rural Development Planning and Aid Coordination Shadrach Fanega and Robinson Fugui.

Mr. Hite claims the defendants purchased the vessel using public funds, but have it registered under the company Malaita Shipping, owned by Mr. Hou and Mr. Fanega.

The Court heard Mr. Hou owns 99 percent while Mr. Fanega one percent of the Small Malaita Shipping Company.

Meanwhile, the defendants maintained that MV Small Mala and Small Malaita Shipping is owned by the people of Small Malaita and that Mr. Hou and Mr. Fanega are shareholders in trust only.

Mr. Hite and Alex Bartlett were witnesses who testified yesterday when SIBC News covered the hearing.

Both said they do not deny the purchase of Small Mala as it is providing much-needed services to the people of Small Malaita – what they are disputing is its ownership.

Mr. Bartlett said the original intention of purchasing the vessel was for it to be owned under a Charitable Trust and not a private company – in this case, Small Malaita Shipping.

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