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Maintain Decorum: Judge To Lawyers

Maintain Decorum: Judge To Lawyers
Ian Lloyd, QC and Rashmi Aslam
May 09
10:58 2015

Lawyers representing both sides in the $3.1 million scam case were told to maintain decorum in the court, after a few sharp exchanges yesterday.

Judge Justice Paul Madigan intervened after Queens Counsel Ian Lloyd objected to a line of questioning by prosecutor Rashmi Aslam. The latter, prosecuting for the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), had asked witness Emosi Bure whether he had any knowledge of any other Department of National Roads (DNR) officials who had worked on the Ebuto to Navala road.  Mr Lloyd,QC, objected to this question insisting that the witness would not know. Mr Aslam, described Mr Lloyd’s objection as ‘immature’ and insisted it was the witness’ perogative to say yes or no. Justice Madigan warned all counsels to maintain professional conduct in his court room and not pass remarks.

The trial involving the director of T.F Jan Bulldozing Company and four former employees of the then Department of National Roads (DNR) continued in its fifth day before Justice Madigan.

Second witness

As part of the court proceedings yesterday, the second witness Emosi Bure told the court about the call he received from the one of the suspects to sign documents in 2012 for work that was done in 2010.

Prosecution witness Mr Bure, a tallyman for DNR confirmed that his task was to sign delivery dockets and keep tallysheets.

Mr Bure was also one of the four witness’ given immunity from prosecution to give evidence in court. Mr Bure informed the court that in 2010 he worked on Koronubu, Navala, Ebuto and Nabutautau to Nagatagata Roads.

FICAC lawyer Mr Aslam asked what he did with the tally reports at the end of each day. Mr Bure said he submitted it to his site supervisor, Vijay Prasad (the fifth accused in this case). Mr Bure identified Mr Prasad in court yesterday morning.

Using a map in court, Mr Aslam asked him to clarify details about the Nadrugu Road. Mr Bure said he worked on Nadrugu Road for only a day and that was on December 22, 2010. Under cross-examination, Mr Bure said DNR had their break-up party on that day which he did not attend, hence his recollection of the exact date. He said he took leave on December 23 till January 15, 2011.

Mr Bure was shown some delivery dockets, tax invoices and day works claim. Mr Aslam asked whether he signed on the delivery dockets. Mr Bure said he signed the documents in 2012. He was asked where it was signed. Mr Bure recalled that it was signed at T.F Jan building on a Sunday in 2012.

Mr Aslam asked him why he signed 2010 documents in 2012. Mr Bure admitted that he was called by the director of T.F Jan Firoz Jan Mohammed to sign them and he did it for some money.

He was asked whether there were any other officials from DNR there. Mr Bure said Vijay Prasad (fifth accused) joined him after half an hour and they signed some documents together.

The delivery dockets and tally sheets signed were for Nadrugu Road, however, the tax invoices and claims made by the company were for Koronubu, Namau and Navala Road, according to the witness.

The documents were from December 16-22, 2010 and the quantity of delivered materials totalled to 1576 cubic metres.

Mr Bure was asked whether he received all the promised materials for Nadrugu Road on the specified dates. Mr Bure said he only received the materials on December 22.

He also agreed, under cross-examination, that the amount of cubic metres of base course received by him on that date was 50 and not 346 cubic meters as stated in the claims document.

He was shown some Navala to Ebuto day works claims and tax invoice statements of December 31, 2010 and he confirmed signing them in 2012. Mr Bure was asked who signed the document below his signature and he replied it was Aisea Liwaiono’s (fourth accused) signature and he recalled Liwaiono’s signature were not there when he signed the documents.

Assessors warned

All assessors in the $3.1 million scam trial were instructed by Justice Madigan to refrain from communicating with any persons connected with the trial.

This is after Mr Aslam brought to his attention that one of the assessors was seen to be communicating with one of the accused’s wife.

Mr Lloyd QC clarified in court that it was just exchange of pleasantries and the assessor only asked the accused wife (Mohammed’s wife) whether she recognised her (assessor) as she was also from Ba to which the answer was no. According to Mr Lloyd, that was the end of the discussion.

The trial continues with four assessors after one of the assessors were asked to step down on day two, due to his relationship with one of the FICAC investigators.

Charges in detail

Businessman Firoz Jan Mohammed and former civil servants Iliesa Turagacati and Navitalai Tamanitoakula were charged with bribery, obtaining a financial advantage and abuse of office, while the other two Aisea Liwaiono have been charged with two counts of causing loss and Vijay Prasad charged with one count of causing loss.

Mohammed is also charged with a count of perverting the cause of justice by submitting false documents for investigation purpose.

It was alleged between February 27 and July 2012, Mohammed, a director of T.F Jan Bulldozing Company Ltd, offered payments amounting to $110,100 to Turagacati, who was a public servant employed as an acting project accountant in the then Department of National Roads. (The Department of National Roads is being referred to as Fiji Roads Authority in the High Court).

It was also alleged in that same period; Mohammed allegedly lodged false invoices and circumvented procedures to obtain an advantage of over $3 million.

Tamanitoakula, who was the senior accounts officer of FRA, was also alleged to have abused the authority of his office, did an arbitrary act in processing payments amounting to $2.468 million to TF Jan Bulldozing without following proper procedures. The fourth and fifth accused Liwaiono and Prasad whilst being employed with FRA allegedly dishonestly caused a risk of loss to FRA by falsely verifying the statement of invoice dated December 31, 2010 amounting to $95,773.52 and supporting documents for T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company Limited allegedly knowing that there was a substantial risk of loss to FRA.

During the same time, it was alleged that Liwaiono dishonestly caused a risk of loss to FRA by falsely verifying the Statements of invoice respectively dated December 31, 2010, April 4, 2012 and April 16, 2012 amounting to a total sum of $315, 417.60 and supporting documents of T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company Limited.

The five deny the charges.

Feedback:  farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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