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Ex- Director Gives Evidence

A former board director of Post Fiji Limited yesterday claimed he did not know the reason why the “entire” board was sacked in April 2007. Vueti Logayau made the claim
06 Nov 2014 12:04
Ex- Director Gives Evidence

A former board director of Post Fiji Limited yesterday claimed he did not know the reason why the “entire” board was sacked in April 2007. Vueti Logayau made the claim in the High Court in Suva while giving evidence in the case between the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) and Mahendra Motibhai Patel (former chairman), Tevita Peni Mau (former CEO) and Dhirendra Pratap (former general manager Finance). Logayau is one of the prosecution witnesses. Patel who is being tried in absentia, is charged with a count of abuse of office. He allegedly allowed a payment of $24,000 to Mau in 2007. Mau is charged with a count of extortion where he is alleged to have demanded money from the board. Pratap faces a count of abuse of office for allegedly facilitating the payout to Mau. The three accused have denied the charges. Patel’s lawyer, Hemendra Nagin, put it to Logayau that the whole board was ‘sacked’ in April 2007 before time. Logayau agreed. Mr Nagin queried whether they became the victims of the ‘cleanup’ after the military takeover in 2006. Logayau said he could not recall it except that he had received a letter from the Minister for Public Enterprise terminating his contract. Mr Logayau said he was not aware that the entire board was ceased and only found out later. But he said he never questioned the reason for it. Mr Nagin put it to him that about 59 staff accepted a redundancy package worth $2.9 million. Mr Logayau agreed. He also agreed that after going through the company contracts that a contract officer (employee) would receive a payment which was the balance of his contract plus leave pay. Mr Logayau agreed with Mr Nagin that during Mau’s terms of service at Post Fiji Limited, the company turnover went up six times; the turnover in 1996 was $5.9million and in 2006 it was $35million and that the company was happy with Mau’s work. Mr Nagin showed Logayau the contract between Mau and Post Fiji Limited signed by Patel. He read out a clause that Mau had existing right to have his contract renewed by mutual agreement three months prior to the expiry of his contract. Mr Logayau, after looking at the contract, told the court that Patel did not have the authority to sign it unless a resolution by a majority of the board of directors was reached. Mr Nagin told Mr Logayau that since the contract was signed by Patel, the line of communication was between Mau and Patel and not between Mau and the board. Mr Logayau disagreed saying that as far as he was concerned, the contract was supposed to come to the board meeting. He said the board would have to agree on the terms of Mau’s contract before giving Patel the authority to sign the contract. Mr Logayau said that was not the case as he had not seen the contract before. Mr Logayau said he was aware that committees were set up to look after certain matters but did not recollect that Patel was appointed to look after the employment contract of Mau, although he was aware that Patel always liaised with Mau. Mr Nagin asked Mr Logayau whether he remembered that a lunch was hosted after it was announced that Mau had exited the company four months prior to his contract expiry date. Mr Logayu said he did but he was not aware that it was during the lunch when a payment package for Mau was announced by Patel and the payment was to be collected from Pratap. He agreed that in a letter from Mau to Patel, Mau had asked for a compensation package for the balance of his contract due to his early departure from the company. He also agreed that Mau had not ‘demanded’ the payment and neither indicated any sum be paid to him. The trial started on Monday with the Judge Justice Prabaharan Kumararatnam rejecting the stay order for Mau. FICAC then called its first witness, Iliesa Lutu who is the deputy permanent secretary for the Public Service Commission. Mr Lutu while giving evidence said a letter from the then Minister for Public Enterprise was sent to the Post Fiji Limited chairman that Mau’s contract should not be renewed after his contract expired on June 30, 2007. The trial continues this morning. Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

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