NEWS

Assessors Find Four Guilty

The four assessors yesterday returned a unanimous guilty verdict for all the four accused in the $3.1million road scam. The accused are Firoz Jan Mohammed, director of T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company,
20 Jun 2015 18:26
Assessors Find Four Guilty
Firoz Jan Mohammed, director of T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company.

The four assessors yesterday returned a unanimous guilty verdict for all the four accused in the $3.1million road scam.

The accused are Firoz Jan Mohammed, director of T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company, former accountant of the then Department of National Roads Iliesa Turagacati, former senior accounts officer Navitalai Tamanitoakula and former engineer Aisea Liwaiono.

The four are charged by the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption for corruption-related offence for road works at the Nausori Highlands.

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.

Mohammed is also charged with a count of perverting the course of justice by submitting false statutory declaration for investigation purpose.

Tamanitoakula, senior accounts officer of FRA, was alleged to have abused the authority of his office and committed an arbitrary act in processing payments amounting to $2.468million to T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company without following proper procedures.

Liwaiono whilst being employed with the then Department of National Roads 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 allegedly knowing that there was a substantial risk of loss to FRA

Facts

  • Accused persons: Firoz Jan Mohammed, Iliesa Turagacati, Navitalai Tamanitoakula, and Aisea Liwaiono.
  • 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 course of justice. All accused deny the charges
  • Firoz Jan Mohammed: Counsels- Queen Counsel Ian Lloyd

Lawyers

  • Iliesa Turagacati:  Counsel Nancy Tikoisuva
  • Navitalai Tamanitoakula: Counsel Filimone Vosarogo
  • Aisea Liwaiono: Taina Leweni

Judge: Justice Paul Madigan

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.

Justice Paul Madigan in his summing up directed the assessors that they should base their opinions on the evidence presented in court and not be influenced by what has been said or reported outside the court room.

He said there is no dispute that money was passed from Mohammed to Turagacati of which some were sent via telegraphic money orders while some were Bank of Baroda transfers.

He said the prosecution presents that the money was to bribe the second accused to make irregular and unjustified payments to T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company.

The second accused tells the court that it was his understanding that the two men in whose names the T.M.O payments were made were owed royalty payments by Mohammed for a logging business.

He further goes on to say that the money was for fish business.

Justice Madigan said out of 14 payments that make up the alleged unsupportable $3million, 12 payments had overpayments, over and above the supporting documents.

He said prosecution also presented that out of the 12 payments, 10 payments were approved by Tamanitoakula, who was the senior accountant.

He said there was evidence by Aghar Ali who said that he had fish dealings but prosecution called witnesses who said there was no fish business.

He said Mukhtar Ali gave evidence that work on various roads were done despite other claims.

He asked the assesors to also look into both side’s expert opinions and analyse them.

Justice Madigan in his summing up also said that there were evidence presented by FICAC that Liwaiono was at the T.F.Jan Bulldozing Company and signed some 2010 documents in 2012. He said the accused also admitted in his caution interview that he knew there was verification process but that was not done. He said Liwaiono’s lawyer also made a submission that her client could have been sleeping at the T.F.Jan office but Justice Madigan said this was speculation which was not to be considered.

The assessors retired behind closed doors for over an hour before coming with a guilty verdict for all the accused on all the counts.

Justice Madigan would deliver his judgment on Monday morning. All accused are out on bail.

He has asked all the defence lawyers to be prepared with mitigation submission and FICAC with sentencing submission in case he convicts any of the accused.

Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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