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FICAC Investigator Questioned

A Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption investigator took to witness stand yesterday on Day 16 of the $3.1million road scam trial in the High Court in Suva. Kuliniasi Saumi was
29 May 2015 11:20
FICAC Investigator Questioned

A Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption investigator took to witness stand yesterday on Day 16 of the $3.1million road scam trial in the High Court in Suva.

Kuliniasi Saumi was the FICAC team leader in the scam involving the T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company director and four former employees of the then Department of National Roads.

He informed the court that he caution- interviewed an accomplice witness Azim Ali, and Aisea Liwaiono (fourth-accused) and retrieved $12,000 from Iliesa Turagacati (second-accused).

However, the Defence lawyer for Turagacati, Nancy Tikoisuva, asked Mr Saumi whether the search list exhibited and given to defence from Turagacati’s home was completed.

Mr Saumi agreed that there were two parts of the search list but prepared by different officers.

Ms Tikoisuva asked Mr Saumi whether there were any documents together with the $12,000 found from Turagacati’s home. Mr Saumi said yes.

He informed the court that the $12,000 was in $100 denomination.

Ms Tikoisuva put it to him that the documents recovered from Turagacati’s home explained that the $12,000 belonged to the Kavula Church.

Mr Saumi said that was the explanation given to investigating team by Turagacati but they tried to investigate further to establish the source of the $12,000.

Ms Tikoisuva said there were bank account details, minutes from Kavula Church.

Mr Saumi said the church money given to Turagacati was given in 2011 and it was in various denominations according to what the turaga ni koro told the investigators.

Mr Saumi said they were still investigating about the $12,000.

He agreed that till date, the money has been kept as an exhibit at the FICAC office and has not been released to Turagacati.

He said in regards to establishing the actual source of the money, they were still investigating.

Mr Saumi read out a caution interview of fourth-accused Liwaiono. Mr Saumi, during his examination in chief with FICAC lawyer Rashmi Aslam, said the investigating team gave all the rights to the accused persons during the interview.

He said during the caution interview, he was accompanied by another witnessing officer from FICAC and that the entire interview was recorded on video and audio.

In the caution interview of Liwaiono, FICAC investigators took Liwaiono through many T.F Jan Bulldozing Company invoices and statements which he had endorsed.

The statements amounted to over $95,000, some totalled more than $10,000 and some totalled more than $73, 000.

Liwaiono’s answer as to why he had endorsed the T.F Jan Bulldozing statements was that some he had mistakenly signed knowing that there was no verification stamp.

On other T.F. Jan statements and daywork claims that were also signed by him he said he was just acknowledging receipt of the statements because he did not have proper training or instructions on what he should or should not endorse.

The trial resumes this morning.

 

Charges

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. All deny the charges.

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

It was alleged between February 27 and July 2012, Mohammed, offered payments amounting to $110,100 to Turagacati, who was an acting project accountant in DNR. For that same period Mohammed allegedly lodged false invoices and circumvented procedures to obtain an advantage of more than $3 million.

Tamanitoakula, a senior accounts officer of FRA, was alleged to have abused the authority of his office, did an arbitrary act in processing payments amounting to $2.468 million to T.F Jan Bulldozing Company 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 allegedly knowing 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 had denied the charges.

Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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