Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Comments on "Paradise Lost on Travelogue on Corruption"

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): September 15, 1997 - In an interview with the FSM Public Auditor, September First regarding the "Paradise Lost on Travelogue on Corruption," Public Auditor Mr. Rensley Sigrah said that the so-called report was not from the Public Auditor's Office and he did not see the report nor review it before it was distributed.

Before Steve Myerson left as an employee of the Public Auditor's Office he left several copies of the "Paradise Lost on Travelogue on Corruption," on one of the investigator's desk to deliver to the Speaker, President and the US Embassy here in Pohnpei, said the Public Auditor. "No copy was given to me for review," he added. The report was distributed couple days after Myerson left the FSM.

The report, he added is unauthorized, unprofessional and it violates the auditing ethics, divulge confidential information, targeting certain individuals, compromised and jeopardized on-going investigations and disregard established auditing procedures.

The FSM Public Auditor's Office follows Government auditing standards which deals with performance of a project and conduct of individuals implementing the project. Upon discovery of any evidence leading to fraud or misconduct by individual in government, further investigation will follow. Should concrete evidence for prosecution be compiled during an investigation, a case will then be filed and prosecution follows.

In a letter from the FSM Auditor to the President dated June 9, 1997, it was stated that Stephen R. Myerson, the author of "Paradise Lost on Travelogue on Corruption, "tried to impress upon the Auditor that if the Auditor did not satisfactorily 'get what he (Myerson), wanted' while working in the FSM he would do all in his abilities to discredit this nation and its people when he is back in the United States.

In his June 4, 1997 letter to Speaker, the Auditor said that the report is an unsolicited personal statement of opinion written up very unprofessionally and out of frustration by one of his former staff (Myerson). Although it looks like it was written using office equipments and material, and during official time, it has no connection to the Public Auditor's Office.

The Auditor informed the Speaker that in Myerson's multitudes of discussions with the Public Auditor, Myerson often said he is predetermined that all folks here in the FSM are crooks and that he was always going to "shoot first and ask questions later." "Myerson was not secretive saying that he would do his best to hurt this nation who uses 'his' tax money, in the next round of negotiation with the US," said the Auditor. Sigrah in his letter also told Speaker that the Speaker and Congress will have to fire him (Sigrah) before he will make any decision resulting from personal conflicts of interest or influenced by Congress.

Myerson engaged himself in some investigation in the states of the FSM, but failed. Myerson was to train a group of local investigator, but he failed also. He did not involve the local investigators very much in his work and the entire time he worked for the FSM he did not established a report which was required of him to be submitted to the Department of Interior through the Public Auditor.

The figures included in Myerson's report were inaccurate and were misleading. "He could not (be) qualified to discuss those figures because he was not an auditor and he had no direct knowledge and assignment in those areas," said the FSM Auditor.

The report was put out through frustration and personal dislikes to some officials in the FSM. The Public Auditor said he and his family is aggrieved by the reference in Myerson's report about his personal finances. "I do not deny I am very very poor," Sigrah said, adding that he wonders how many new business start off strong from day one. "I struggled like all businesses receiving institutional financing but I did not get my help from Congress or anyone else to get back on my feet," he said. He questioned however the motive behind digging into his personal and confidential financial information and wonders if such information was legitimately obtained, if so, was its disclosure authorized, and by whom?

Due to Myerson's display of unprofessionalism in conducting investigations, the Congress' Ways and Means Committee made a statement in the budget which specifically limits Myerson's travels. This statement was in existence even before Sigrah became Public Auditor contrary to the report.

However, Congress members have been cooperating with the efforts of the FSM Public Auditor's Office in auditing projects in their respective areas. Sigrah stated that the entire two years, Myerson had four months of vacation each year and he was earning $60,000 per annum, plus housing, recruitment/repatriation costs and paid vacations. He was paid over $150,000 in total costs for his two years.

It cost over $150,000 to carry his contract through for two years, most of which was granted from USDOI. Although Mr. Myerson is out, the Public Auditor has already received approval to hire a new investigator to pick up from where there were failures in the past.

The Public Auditor advise readers of the so-called report not to give much credence to the report [...] that he misunderstood his assignment and lost objectivity therefore he had to show his frustrations.

A draft audit report has just been completed on the Capital Improvement projects in various state, the second report since the inception of the Compact, which he says depicted the true picture of CIP in FSM.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356