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Audit Legal Row

Audit Legal Row
Sukuna House students of Ratu Kadavulevu School (from left), Mosese Tikicidre, Penaia Soga, Kilioni Sisiwa and Rulade Masiwini won most of the awards at the school’s prizegiving in Tailevu yesterday. Photo: Rama
November 26
09:58 2014

A private law firm has been  controversially hired by the Auditor-General’s Office to respond to issues raised by aliz pacific.

The issues, in the Auditor-General’s report 2010, referred to the restructure of the then Rewa Co-operative Dairy Company Limited.

The claims have come under fire and led to warnings of legal action.

Cromptons Fiji, a Suva-based law firm, was hired by Auditor-General Tevita Bolanavanua.

While there has not been any allocation in the 2014 Budget for hiring outside legal services, Mr Bolanavanua has defended his decision.

A clerk with the law firm confirmed that last Friday, she sent across a letter from the firm to the solicitors of aliz pacific.

When questioned, Mr Bolanavanua said Section 7 (1) (f) of the Audit Act allowed him to seek advice from private practice in “circumstances considered appropriate”.

Normally, the Solicitor-General provides legal opinion to Government departments. But Mr Bolanavanua said he opted to seek legal opinion from the Solicitor-General and a private law firm.

In this case, it was Cromptons Fiji which wrote a letter to the solicitors of aliz pacific on behalf of the Auditor-General.

“There is nothing wrong with seeking two independent legal opinions from practitioners after which we will decide who will best represent us should the matter reach the court,” Mr Bolanavanua said.

Mr Bolanavanua was also questioned how much Cromptons Fiji was charging his office.

He said: “Other issues you have raised are confidential and cannot be discussed with you.”

He also did not specify from which allocation was Cromptons Fiji being paid.

According to its website, the law firm states that: “Other fees are time based and, depending on the nature of the work involved and the seniority of the practitioner doing the work, vary between FJD250.00 and FJD450.00 an hour”.

aliz pacific is seeking re-dress and damages from the Auditor-General for public dissemination of “false information” about their office thereby causing “enormous reputational damages”.




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