NEWS

Worker Admits Backdating Invoices

A former senior accounts officer with T. F Jan Bulldozing Company says she was instructed to prepare backdated invoices and email them to accounts officer at the then Department of
14 May 2015 10:31
Worker Admits Backdating Invoices

A former senior accounts officer with T. F Jan Bulldozing Company says she was instructed to prepare backdated invoices and email them to accounts officer at the then Department of National Roads.

Ranjana Goundar says she used the company director’s email account as instructed.

Mrs Goundar, in her evidence on day eight of the $3.1million road scam, told the court that she received details from senior technical officer Mukesh Chand and raised invoices accordingly.

Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption lawyer Rashmi Aslam asked Mrs Goundar if she created any backdated invoices.

Mrs Goundar said she did, but added that she created backdated documents for 2010 in 2012 upon instructions from Mr Chand.

Mr Aslam asked her if she queried Chand on why they were preparing backdated invoices, to which Mrs Goundar replied that Mr Chand told her this was the direction from director Firoz Jan Mohammed (first accused).

Mrs Goundar informed the court that Mohammed told her that they were claiming for day works which wasn’t previously claimed for.

She said after she raised the invoice, she would give it to Mr Chand to check and he would take it to Mohammed and after approval, he would deliver to DNR’s Lautoka office.

Mr Aslam showed Mrs Goundar four invoices totalling more than $122,000 and a statement claiming for day works and she agreed that she prepared them.

Mr Aslam asked if she sent these directly to anyone in DNR.  Mrs Goundar said she did using Mohammed’s email upon instructions from him. She said she emailed them to DNR project accountant Iliesa Turagacati (second accused).

Mrs Goundar identified Turagacati in court.

She was shown another set of invoices of October 22, 2010, and she agreed that she prepared them in 2012 and backdated them to May 4, 2010, emailing them with the subject “missing invoices”, with content stating “please find attached invoices which went missing by Mr Fernando”.

Mr Aslam asked whether to her knowledge there were missing invoices by a Mr Fernando. Mrs Goundar said no.

She agreed with Mr Aslam that when payments were received from DNR, Mohammed would inform her of it.

Mr Aslam asked her if she compared any payments with the claims. She said once or twice and noticed the amounts were double from what was claimed.

Mr Aslam asked if she queried this. Mrs Goundar said when she asked Mohammed she was informed that it could be for backlog payments.

Mr Aslam asked whether there were any backlog payments left for DNR to pay T.F. Jan, she said no.

On questions from Queen’s Counsel and Mohammed’s lawyer Ian Lloyd, Mrs Goundar confirmed she and Mohammed met Turagacati on one occasion when Mohammed demanded previous payments from Turagacati.

Mr Lloyd asked her how many witness statements she gave and she said eight. She was asked if she mentioned copy and pasting details from previous emails into backdated invoices in her statement, but she denied doing so.

Mrs Goundar was asked if she mentioned in her statement that Mr Chand would take the backdated invoices to Mohammed to verify before delivery. She said no.

Nancy Tikoisuva, representing Turagacati, asked Mrs Goundar whether the reason for the extra payments were outstanding payments for which they met Turagacati and the Minister for Works in 2010 and 2011 and hence the payments were to accommodate their request. Mrs Goundar agreed.

Ms Tikoisuva said the invoices she emailed to her client were believed to be true, hence he authorised the payments. Mrs Goundar said yes she believed it to be true because her director told her they were claiming for dayworks which wasn’t claimed for before.

In re-examination Mr Aslam asked her whether any FICAC officers asked her to lie as accused by defence, she said no.

Mr Aslam asked her whether there were any outstanding payments of 2010 left to be paid by DNR. She said none as it was all paid in 2011.

The trial continues today.

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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