Former VPL staff gets 4-year jail term for misappropriation

A former staff of the Vanuatu Post Limited (VPL), Jeffrey Iausalok, has been given four years’ imprisonment for misappropriation.

Iausalok was employed by VPL at its Lenakel and Aniwa branches from 2009 to 2013. He misappropriated over VT7 million from the Lenakel Branch from 2011 to 2013 and over VT4 million from the Aniwa Branch during that same period.

Iausalok was initially suspended and later terminated in 2013. Currently, he is unemployed with three children and has a pregnant wife.

The maximum sentence for the offence is 12 years’ imprisonment. Having considered the aggravating aspects, Supreme Court Judge Gus Andrée Wiltens gave Iausalok a starting point of 7 years.

There were no mitigating factors.

Aggravating aspects include the repeat nature of dishonest conduct, the enormous sum misappropriated -over VT10 million, duration of offending-26 months gross breach of trust, the unlikelihood of reparation and planning and pre-meditation.

His sentence was reduced due to his early guilty plea and his admissions to the police and the VPL’s Chief Financial Officer.

His personal factors such as being unemployed with three children and a pregnant wife, having no previous convictions and willingness to participate in a custom reconciliation ceremony, were considered.

Judge Wiltens stated: “There has been considerably delay in the progress of this case. Mr Young (counsel for the Public Prosecutor) accepts that the prosecution is responsible for 5 years delay, and he attributes the other delay at least partly for Mr. Iausalok.

“Any unnecessary delay is unfair and that should be reflected in a reduction of sentence. In this case, I reduce the sentence starting point by 4 months to reflect this unnecessary delay.

“For his personal factors, the sentence start point is further reduce by 4 months.”

The offending is too serious to contemplate suspension of sentence, Judge Wiltens added.

Mr. Iausalok has 14 days to appeal, commencing from October 6 last week.