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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:30, January 14, 2006
S. African Parliament fires chief finance officer for Travelgate scandal
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South African Parliament on Friday fired Chief Finance Officer Harry Charlton, a key figure in unraveling the Travelgate scam.

Zingile Dingani, secretary to Parliament said in Cape Town, said that Charlton was found guilty on 12 of the 15 charges.

A disciplinary inquiry found Charlton had shown "an indisputable colossal contempt" for Parliament's prescribed policies and procedures.

Dingani intimated that criminal charges could follow against Charlton, who was suspended from his post in November last year.

Most of the disciplinary charges related to unauthorized agreements Charlton allegedly entered into with suppliers to Parliament.

One charge was that he allowed a computerized financial management project to fall behind schedule "thus creating inconvenience to the institution and resulting in Parliament entering into variation orders."

Others were that he engaged temporary staff without following proper procedure, tried to remove confidential documents from his office after his suspension, and that he at the same time made " racist and derogatory comments."

Charlton is reportedly overseas. He could not be reached for comment.

Dingani said there would be a further investigation into whether Charlton or members of his family benefited from the alleged irregularities.

He had considered laying a criminal complaint against Charlton, but first had to do "all that is necessary to make sure that these things are done to come to that conclusion."

Democratic Alliance chief whip Douglas Gibson responded that until the Travelgate scandal had been disposed of, the guilty had been convicted and paid the price for their dishonesty, the suspicion would linger that Charlton was paying the price for his part in preventing a cover up.

A number of present and former MPs and several travel agents go on trial in the Cape High Court later this year in the Travelgate case. They are accused of abusing parliamentary travel vouchers.

Source: Xinhua

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