Ba Highlands Chief Gives Evidence

The Tui Magodro Ratu Simione Navutevute, chief from the Ba highlands, took the stand on Day 15 of the $3.1 million road scam trial in the High Court in Suva.
28 May 2015 10:05
Ba Highlands Chief Gives Evidence

The Tui Magodro Ratu Simione Navutevute, chief from the Ba highlands, took the stand on Day 15 of the $3.1 million road scam trial in the High Court in Suva.

In his testimony, Ratu Simione informed the court that T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company did not honor their side of an agreement with his landowning unit (mataqali).

Company owner Firoz Jan Mohammed, and four former employees of the Department of National Roads, deny charges in connection with the alleged scam.

Ratu Simione told the court that Mohammed approached him for the use of the stone crusher at Bukuya.

He said there was discussion of a royalty payment for the use of the land but said the agreement was to pay the mataqali $1 per cubic metre and not $50,000.

He agreed with Mohammed’s defence lawyer Dr Thomas Hickey that in July 2009, the Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB) now known as iTaukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB) became involved in the agreement where $500 was negotiated to be paid per annum for the lease of their land at the Bukuya Quarry.

He was asked if disgruntled landowners blockaded their land when Mohammed failed to pay the negotiated sum for the lease of the land.

Ratu Simione confirmed a block-


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

Charges:  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 cause of justice. All the accused deny the charges.

Lawyers: Firoz Jan Mohammed: Queen Counsel Ian Lloyd

Iliesa Turagacati: Nancy Tikoisuva

Navitalai Tamanitoakula: Filimone Vosarogo

Aisea Liwaiono: Taina Leweni

Vijay Prasad: Christina Choy

Judge: Justice Paul Madigan



-ade but not by his mataqali but by another mataqali who claimed the Bukuya Quarry land as their own.

Dr Hickey suggested the blockade was cleared when Mohammed agreed to pay for the building of a school at the village and also paid money for the use of the land.

Ratu Simione said Mohammed paid $5000 to the school project but he did not pay for the agreed $1 per cubic metres for use of stone crusher.

Ratu Simione denied demanding for large sum of money.

An affidavit was read out from Vodafone Company identifying the contact details of T.F Jan Bulldozing company, Iliesa Turagacati (second accused) and other correspondents.

Prosecution witness Mohammed Ashif Amzaad, a former employee of Western Builders, the sister company of T.F. Jan Bulldozing Company told the court that he received cash from Bank of Baroda upon instructions from Mohammed and hand delivered it to Turagacati in 2012.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) lawyer Rashmi Aslam asked Mr Ashif about his statement to FICAC. Mr Ashif said he  mentioned Turagacati’s name but later asked them to put someone else’s name upon Mohammed’s direction. He admitted that Mohammed was his uncle.

Mr Ashif said he came to know of the FICAC investigation into his uncle’s company after he resigned from Western Builders to pursue further studies. He said that he decided to tell the truth to the investigators and gave Turagacati’s name in his third witness statement.

He agreed with defence lawyer for Turagacati that Mohammed informed him that the payment he was delivering to Turagacati was for royalty of logging.

Another witness Vaseva Tabakanalagi agreed to also hand delivering cash to Turagacati.

Both witnesses identified Turagacati and Mohammed in court yesterday.

Prosecution counsel would resume their case by calling FICAC investigators as their witnesses this morning.

Mr Aslam informed the court that he might finish his case by Monday next week and he might be making an application to recall one of the earlier prosecution witnesses.



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.



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