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Tikoca Spent $94k Funds On Son’s Education, Court Told

Ratu Isoa Tikoca used $94,526.73 of public funds for his son’s education, the Suva Magistrates Court was told yesterday. Former Director Corporate Services for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kelera
10 Jan 2017 11:20
Tikoca Spent $94k Funds On Son’s Education, Court Told
Ratu Isoa Tikoca. Photo:Jone Luvenitoga

Ratu Isoa Tikoca used $94,526.73 of public funds for his son’s education, the Suva Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

Former Director Corporate Services for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kelera Niutaumaki, made this statement in her evidence as the first prosecution witness.

Isoa Tikoca appeared before Magistrate Makereta Mua. He is charged by the Fiji Independent Commissiom Against Corruption for failing to declare his liabilities before the 2014 General Elections. He has pleaded not guilty.

It is alleged that his failure was contrary to Section 24(2) (a) (viii) and Section 24(5) of the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Decree No 4 of 2013.

It is alleged that Tikoca had spent a total amount of $94 526.73 on his son’s school fees to St Joseph’s College in Brisbane, Australia.

During chief examination, FICAC Prosecutor, Rashmi Asalam asked the witness to state how the matter began.

Ms Kelera told the court that she was directed by the Public Accounts Commission in 2015 to write to Tikoca to pursue the reactivation of recovery of money owed by him.

Tikoca was the High Commissioner of Fiji to Papua New Guinea on April 10, 2006.

Mr Asalam submitted in court that the Public Service Diplomatic and Consular Services Regulation stipulated that the Diplomat or High Commissioner were recommended to send their children to a school in the country that they resided in.

However, defence lawyer, Kitione Vuataki argued that it was only a recommendation but not mandatory.

According to the Auditor General’s Report, Niutaumaki told the court that the action carried out by Tikoca was not authorised by the Public Service Commission.

The Court asked Ms Niutaumaki on chances of reconsideration for Tikoca after hearing that he had written a letter of reconsideration to the Public Accounts Committee.

However, Ms Niutaumaki said the committee could have considered a reconsideration if the letter was sent before the expenses were paid years ago.

The Prosecution will be calling two more witnesses while the Defence will be calling three to four witnesses for the trial.

The hearing will continue today at 10am.

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