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Three Opt Out Of Giving Evidence In PWD Trial

Three people in the trial involving former Public Works Department (PWD) employees have chosen not to give evidence in court. The three accused that chose not to give evidence are
13 Apr 2017 11:00
Three Opt Out Of Giving Evidence In PWD Trial

Three people in the trial involving former Public Works Department (PWD) employees have chosen not to give evidence in court.

The three accused that chose not to give evidence are Laisa Halafi, Vaciseva Lagai and Vilisi Tuitavuki.

Currently six accused people are undergoing a trial for allegedly causing a loss of about $365,000 to the Government.

The matter was called before Justice Thusara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

 

Charges:

Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) charged Ana Laqere, Tavenisa Tavaga, Amelia Vunisea, Halafi, Lagai, Tuitavuki, Kiniviliame Taviraki and Shelveen Narayanwith seven counts of abuse of office, 35 counts of causing a loss and two counts of obtaining a financial advantage.

Seven accused persons are former employees of the PWD while the eighth accused is the director of Phoenix Hardware Engineering and General Supplies, Ontime Stationery Supplies and Shavel Stationery Supplies, Shelveen Narayan, who had pleaded guilty to his charges.

It is alleged that between 2011 and 2014, Laqere, Vunisea, Halafi, Lagai, Tuitavuki and Taviraki, did arbitrary acts for the purpose of gain namely facilitated the processing of false payments to be made to three companies namely Phoenix hardware Engineering General Supplies Ltd, Ontime Stationery Supplies and Shavel Stationery Supplies.

Shalveen Narayan has pleaded guilty to the charges and is awaiting sentencing.

 

Defence witness: Amelia Vunisea

Vunisea, who was the assistant Accounts Officer, informed the court that she signed a total of 59 cheques which amounted to $85,000.

Vunisea said that many cheques were used to purchase stationery and some cheques were signed blank.

Under cross examination, FICAC lawyer Rashmi Aslam asked Vunisea why she signed blank cheques, to which she informed the court that it was authorised by Laqere, who was the senior Accounts Officer at the time.

Mr Aslam further questioned Vunisea, if Laqere was authorised to make decisions as such, to which she said no.

Mr Aslam told Vunisea that she was abusing her powers as a public official in signing blank cheques as this involved public funds.

According to Mr Aslam, an email was sent to the accounts staff in July 2010 by the principal accounts officer of PWD stating that no manual cheques were to be signed and that all cheques were to be processed through the Financial Management Information System (FMIS), which would then generate the cheques.

Vunisea was copied into the email, however, she said she could not recall receiving the email.

Mr Aslam put it to Vunisea that by not adhering to Government financial process and procedures, she abused her position as a public official and caused a loss to the Government.

Vunisea told the court that she did not keep a manual register to record the cheques that were signed by her.

The case continues today.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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