NATION

Tikoca Takes Stand In Trial

  Ratu Isoa Tikoca told the court yesterday that Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, had urged him to send his son to study in Australia.
13 Jan 2017 11:00
Tikoca Takes Stand In Trial
Ratu Isoa Tikoca. Photo:Jone Luvenitoga

 

Ratu Isoa Tikoca told the court yesterday that Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, had urged him to send his son to study in Australia.

Tikoca made the statement at the fourth day of his trial before Magistrate Makereta Mua in the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday.

Charges: Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption has charged Tikoca for failing to declare his liabilities before the 2014 general elections.

It is alleged that his failure was contrary to section 24 ( 2 ) ( a ) ( vii ) and section 24 ( 5 ) of the political parties registration, conduct, funding and disclosures decree no 4 of 2013.

Defence lawyer, Kitione Vuataki questioned Tikoca on his appointment to Papua New Guinea as the High Commissioner.

Tikoca told the court that he had a briefing with Ratu Inoke in Brisbane, Australia, where he had advised him to get his son to PNG because there were facilities provided to educate his children.

Tikoca further said that he was also advised that if he wished to educate his child out of Port Moresby, PNG, then he would have to pay for the difference that would occur, compared to Port Moresby International School.

His son had started schooling at St Joseph’s Nudgee College in Brisbane, Australia, in 2006, from Term Two and continued till 2008.

“The system of payment was confirmed to me as when the fund is remitted from Suva headquarters, it will come to the ANZ bank account in Port Moresby and the accounts officer will pay St Joseph’s Nudgee College via balance transfer,” said Tikoca.

In 2008, Tikoca received a letter from the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs with the heading ‘Recovery of unauthorised educational allowance’.

“On September 3, 2008, I emailed my accountant regarding the figures and asked her to relook at the amounts.

“I told the PS that I have looked at the figures and I find some errors and am arranging with the bank to pay the lump sum,” said Tikoca.

Tikoca told the court that for 13 pay days, $1000 was deducted from his pay and that the deduction was to pay off the difference that had occurred in the educational allowance.

He further told the court that the total amount paid by him was $23,739.34, whereas according to the calculation done by his daughter who is an accountant, he was to pay $19,303.

“I have over paid the Government by $4436.34 and I had paid off the difference in the middle of February in 2009. I know I owe nothing to the Government as the letter of recommendation was given to me by Government and I am very sure I paid all my dues and was awarded ambassador for life.

“This $94,527 is an estimate amount of the difference between the two schools and it is not the actual amount,” said Tikoca.

FICAC lawyer, Rashmi Aslam then cross examined Tikoca on what he understood from the regulation regarding educational allowance.

Tikoca responded by saying that any difference from the school fees was to be paid by the parents.

Mr Aslam further questioned an email that was sent by Tikoca to the Auditor-General on August 28, 2008.

Tikoca continued denying any questions asked in relation to that letter.

The case continues today.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

 Feedback: jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj

 

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