NATION

Equipment Use Focus Of Questioning

The use of equipment to process raw materials for roadworks and where they were kept overnight was the focus of questioning during Day Four of the $3.1million scam trial. The
08 May 2015 08:54
Equipment Use Focus Of Questioning
Businessman Firoz Jan Mohammed (left) and outside the High Court in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The use of equipment to process raw materials for roadworks and where they were kept overnight was the focus of questioning during Day Four of the $3.1million scam trial.

The questions were directed at State witness Mukesh Chand, the first witn4ess in the trial.

Lawyer Ian Lloyd QC, who is representing first accused and businessman Firoz Jan Mohammed, first asked Mr Chand why the equipment was needed at the work sites and where they were kept.

Mr Chand said several pieces of equipment were needed at the crushing site to produce raw materials and at the end of the day they were kept at the crushing site.

This was disputed earlier during cross examination by Mr Lloyd QC, who said that the crushing site was too small for such equipment to be stationed there.

Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) lawyer Rashmi Aslam then quizzed Mr Chand on the variation of the contract document of September 7, 2009, addressed to T.F.Jan director Mohammed from Permanent Secretary Anand Kumar about the supply and delivery of materials to rural roads.

The letter mentioned several areas – Navala, Namau, Korovuto, Navala to Ebuto, Nasivikoso to the Valley Road and Nabutautau to Nagatagata Road.

Another contractor RockTech Limited was mentioned in the letter and Mr Chand agreed that, according to that letter, Nadrugu Road was awarded to RockTech Limited.

Another letter was shown dated September 7, 2009, was shown to Mr Chand. The letter said Nadrugu Road contract was awarded to T.F Jan bulldozing company by Divisional Engineer Western Peni Tuinona.

Mr Aslam asked Mr Chand whether he knew Mr Tuinona and Mr Chand agreed. Mr Chand was shown a timesheet summary of October 2, 2010, where there was a Peni Tuinona mentioned in that time summary. Mr Aslam asked Mr Chand whether he was the same person (the Divisional Engineer Western), to which Mr Chand agreed.

Mr Aslam asked Mr Chand to explain how Mr Tuinona’s name ended up in the timesheet summary for T.F Jan when he (Mr Tuinona) was an employee of the roads authority.

Mr Chand said Mr Tuinona was a consultant at one of T.F.Jan’s job sites after some changes at the roads authority.

The trial involves a businessman and four former civil servants charged by the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption. 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 course 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 alleged in that same period; Mohammed allegedly lodged false invoices and circumvented procedures to obtain an advantage of more than $3million.

Tamanitoakula, who was the 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 TF Jan Bulldozing without following proper procedures. The fourth and fifth accused Liwaiono and Prasad while 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.

The trial continues this morning.

Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 




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