Lack Of Records Hampers Staff

A former assistant accounts officer with the then Department of National Roads (DNR) has told the High Court in Suva that there were no previous records within the department to
20 May 2015 10:02
Lack Of Records Hampers Staff
Firoz Jan Mohammed, one of the accused.

A former assistant accounts officer with the then Department of National Roads (DNR) has told the High Court in Suva that there were no previous records within the department to enable staff to verify payments done for past years.

Losalini Saurara, on Day 12 of the $3.1million road scam trial, told the court that she was assigned the task of clearing outstanding payments on 2011 at the DNR office when she was posted there in February 2012.

Ms Saurara, while giving evidence against T.F Jan Bulldozing Company director and four former employees of DNR, told the court that when she joined DNR, she was handed a list of contractors who were owed money.

She said the list was given to her by senior accounts officer Navitalai Tamanitoakula (third accused).

Ms Saurara said in 2012 she received several minutes and invoices of 2010 from T.F Jan Bulldozing company through the project accountant Iliesa Turagacati (Second accused).

Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption lawyer Rashmi Aslam asked if she inquired why they were paying 2010 payments in 2012 and Ms Saurara replied that Turagacati said they needed to pay it since it was not paid in 2010. She said he insisted on the payment because there were no other records to cross check if they were previously paid or not.

Ms Saurara told the court that Turagacati told her that only he had records and he would get them to prove they were not paid. She said he also told her that there were some documents missing by the engineer hence they had to pay then. She said in the memo by Turagacati, there was small handwritten note addressed to her by Tamanitoakula to arrange for previous payment and that was what she did.

Nancy Tikoisuva, representing Turagacati, asked whether she was sure the documents attached on the payment came from her client’s office and Ms Saurara said yes it did, but she was not sure who prepared them.

Filimoni Vosarogo, representing Tamanitoakula, showed her some exhibits where there was no acknowledgment by his client to process payments. Mr Vosarogo suggested that the only time his client saw one of the 2010 payments worth $222,271 was when it came for his certification. He suggested that his client did not see any minute by Turagacati and he did not write on it to process those payments.

Ms Saurara clarified that there were times when Tamanitoakula did not write on the minutes, but just passed it through other staff to her to get it processed.

Mr Aslam in re-examination asked whether she queried about 2010 payments from her superior. Ms Saurara said she asked Tamanitoakula to check for previous payments. She told the court that Tamanitoakula informed her that he could not be of her assistance because there was no previous record due to a breakdown in the DNR’s accounting system. She said Tamanitoakula told her to pay out the money since Turagacati said it was not paid.

She clarified that there was no outstanding from 2010 in her list to be paid out however they did pay 2010 outstanding to T.F Jan bulldozing company in 2012.

She identified Turagacati and Tamanitoakula in court. Trial continues this morning.


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 while 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, offered payments amounting to $110,100 to Turagacati, who was an acting project accountant in DNR. For that same period Mohammed allegedly lodged false invoices and circumvented procedures to obtain an advantage of more than $3million.

Tamanitoakula, senior accounts officer of FRA, was alleged to have abused the authority of his office, did an arbitrary act in processing payments amounting to $2.468m to Bulldozing Company 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 Bulldozing Company 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.

Accused persons:
Firoz Jan Mohammed, Iliesa Turagacati, Navitalai Tamanitoakula, Aisea Liwaiono and Vijay Prasad

Count one and two bribery, count three is obtaining financial advantage, count four, five, six and seven is dishonestly causing loss and count eight is perverting the course of justice. The five deny the charges.

Lawyers: Firoz Jan Mohammed: Queen Counsel Ian Lloyd; Iliesa Turagacati: Nancy Tikoisuva;

Navitalai Tamanitoakula: Filimoni Vosarogo; Aisea Liwaiono: Taina Leweni;
Vijay Prasad: Christina Choy

Justice Paul Madigan



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