NEWS

Invoice Claims Exaggerated, Prosecution Witness Tells

A prosecution witness has told the court that claims on tax invoices he had signed in 2012 were exaggerated. An accomplice witness, Esala Cagimaicama, a former leading hand for DNR
13 May 2015 10:38
Invoice Claims Exaggerated, Prosecution Witness Tells
Driver Fazil Khan outside court yesterday. Photo: Jona Konataci

A prosecution witness has told the court that claims on tax invoices he had signed in 2012 were exaggerated.

An accomplice witness, Esala Cagimaicama, a former leading hand for DNR (Department of National Roads) informed the court that he was called in 2012 by the director of T.F. Jan Bulldozing, Feroz Mohammed, to sign some claims document.

FICAC lawyer Rashmi Aslam had shown him tax invoices for Nagatagata Road and Mr Cagimaicama confirmed signing them at the T.F. Jan office in 2012.

Mr Aslam was asked about his work on some of the roads in the Nausori Highland. Mr Cagimaicama said he worked on Bukuya, Tuavatu, Nanoko, Ebuto, Nasivikoso, Valley road, Nabutautau and Nagatagata roads.

Under cross-examination, he revealed the names of others at T.F. Jan office when he was called in.

Mr Cagimaicama said Chand, Aisea Liwaiono (fourth accused) and director Mohammed were present there. He said they had refreshments and had a general conversation after which the director called his accounts officer (Ranjana) who brought some day work claims.

Mr Cagimaicama said the contents in the claims were exaggerated and some were claimed double times for Nagatagata Road and he queried about it.

Mr Cagimaicama said he was reluctant to sign but Mohammed told him not to worry about his job because the DNR was about to be privatised and he would be offered a job in the new company.

Mr Aslam asked him if he was aware that he could be questioned from DNR headquarters in Suva. Mr Cagimaicama said yes, but Mohammed told him that he knew everyone at DNR right upto the Minister as well as the accountant.

He was asked in court if he mentioned any name of accountant. Mr Cagimaicama recalled one Iliesa and that Mohammed tried calling him but his phone was diverted.

Mr Cagimaicama said he was called to come to T.F Jan on another occasion by Mohammed to sign more documents. According to his recollection it was either January or February.

He said documents (April 2-14, 2012) for works at Nagatagata given to him to sign mentioned three excavators, 1 grader, 2 leading hands, two labours, two trucks and Mr Cagimaicama agreed that the information were exaggerated.

He said in fact only two excavators, one leading hand, one truck, no labourers and no graders were used at Nagatatagata road.

He said he signed the document together with Liwaiono and Chand.

He was asked whether the engineers and compliance team actually went out to Nagatagata road to verify the works done for which the claims were made and Mr Cagimaicama said no.

Mr Aslam asked him he was offered refreshment on first occasion before signing documents and to state what was offered during the second time.

Mr Cagimaicama said he was offered cash on two occasions, one $500 and secondly $200 and it was given by Mohammed.

In cross examination by Mr Lloyd, he suggested to Mr Cagimaicama that the money given by Mohammed was to buy food for all men at campsite and not for signing documents. This was denied by the witness.

Mr Lloyd said Mohammed never said he knew people at DNR but Mr Cagimaicama disputed this.

Taina Leweni for Liwaiono asked Mr Cagimaicama that her client would not doubt any documents to be false if it was signed by him (Cagimaicama) and he agreed.

Ms Leweni put to him that by signing it her client understood it was a true document that is why Liwaiono also signed and he agreed.

Mr Aslam in re-examination clarified whether Liwaiono was present when he queried about the records from Mukesh and Mohammed replied. Mr Cagimaicama said yes he was present and was listening.

Mr Aslam asked if there was any other way for the engineer, Liwaiono, to verify if works were done. Mr Cagimaicama said the engineer could verify by actually going to the site but in this case no verification took place and he just signed it in the T.F Jan office.

Mr Aslam asked him whether he stayed at the camp and whether Mohammed gave him money for food. Mr Cagimaicama said he stayed in a village and not at camp and he did not stay with T.F Jan employees hence Mohammed did not give him any money to buy food.

He agreed that if Mohammed had to give money for food for his staff, he would give it to either Chand or any T.F Jan employees and not him.

 

Signatures forged

Three drivers were also called as prosecution witness. Abaas Khan, director of Ahmed Khan whose company subcontracted trucks for T.F. Jan on occasions informed the court that signatures in delivery documents beside his names were forged and that he did not deliver any gravel to Nadrugu road.

Mr Lloyd asked him if the company received advanced payments in December 2010 for hire of trucks but Mr Khan said he could not tell that and his accountants could answer that.

But he agreed that they received around $2000 as payments for hire of trucks. He said in cross examination that he dealt with Chand as he decided where to transport gravels.

Mr Aslam asked him whether his company gave T.F.Jan any permission to forge signature and Mr Khan said no.

Another driver, Pravin Lal, informed the court that he was at times referred to as Amit and he worked for Ahmed Khan.

He drove vehicle Ex357 for about a month transporting gravels from Bukuya to 4 kilometres away.

He was shown delivery dockets and asked if he signed those documents beside his name. Mr Lal said it was not his signature. He denied ever seeing Mohammed but agreed knowing Chand.

Another driver, Fazil Khan, informed the court that his father’s company Quick Earthworks subcontracted two trucks to T.F Jan. He said he drove one vehicle with registration number FI 910 and worked for about four days.

Mr Aslam asked him if his company was paid by the bulldozing company.

Mr Khan said his company had not been paid up till today and he also denied signing any delivery documents and that his signatures were also forged.

Meanwhile, cross examination of fourth witness Ashneel Atish Kumar took place yesterday morning with defence questioning the witness on the contents of the letters, which he typed for the Department of National Roads.

Queen Counsel Ian Lloyd asked Mr Kumar in whose handwriting was the letter in. Mr Kumar said he could not tell because it was neither his nor Mukesh Chands (first accomplice witness) handwriting.

The trial continues this morning.

 

Charges

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.

Feedback:  farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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