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Leweni Stood Down

Leweni Stood Down
Chief Protocol Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Neumi Leweni
May 24
12:16 2018

The Chief Protocol Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Neumi Leweni,  has been suspended pending investigations into an alleged visa scam.

It comes after the sacking of a female protocol official on May 6 in  connection with the alleged scam.

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ioane Naivalurua, confirmed the latest developments yesterday.

He said the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama,  had been briefed about the issue.

Mr Bainimarama confirmed he was aware of the suspension.

Mr Leweni could not be reached for a comment last night. But the Government acted quickly to minimise the negative impact of the alleged scam on the ministry’s reputation.

The protocol division is tasked to prepare travel visas for Government delegations travelling overseas on official duties. The operation involves dealing with diplomatic missions based here.

In the latest alleged incident, two extra names were added to the official list of delegates to the Commonwealth  Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The delegation was to stop over in Australia before flying to London.

The two “mystery” persons were not civil servants nor do they have any links with the Government. They were allegedly supposed to travel with the delegation and disembark in Australia.

The anomaly was discovered when the visa applications for the group were processed by the Australian High Commission Immigration section in Suva. The pair were detected because they had previously tried to enter Australia using a fake visa. How they ended up on the official list is still a mystery and the subject of investigation by the ministry.

It is understood the Australians were not amused and communicated their concern to the Government. The Government  acted immediately after it was informed.

The first officer was summarily dismissed on May 6 and her case was handed to Police to investigate.

Since then more information has allegedly come to light.

Mr Leweni started his career in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

He held various senior Government positions including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and later the Ministry of Lands.

He took up the Chief Protocol Officer position in August 2016.

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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