Opinion

It’s Just Not Worth It! The Wages Of Corruption = Prison

Six former public servants and a businessman are learning the hard way that stealing does not pay. Whether it’s stealing a small or large sum, the consequences will catch up
11 May 2017 10:32
It’s Just Not Worth It!   The Wages Of Corruption = Prison
L - R: Vaciseva Lagai, Vilisi Tuitavuki and Kiniviliame Taviraki on May 4, 2017. Photo: Roneel Karthik

Six former public servants and a businessman are learning the hard way that stealing does not pay.

Whether it’s stealing a small or large sum, the consequences will catch up with you one day.

Sentenced yesterday by the High Court in Suva were former employees of the then Public Works Department Ana Laqere, Amelia Vunisea, Laisa Halafi, Vaciseva Lagai, Vilisi Tuitavuki, Kiniviliame Taviraki and Ontime Stationery Supplies owner, Shelveen Narayan.

The offence which caused a loss of $362,944.37 to Government was committed between March 15, 2010 and August 2010.

In his sentence, Judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe said that it was proved at the conclusion of the hearing that the first six accused persons, while performing and discharging different duties and responsibilities at different stages in the procurement process, had facilitated the 101 false transactions of purchasing stationery and hardware materials to the Department of Engineering Central Eastern (DECE) at PWD.

The former PWD workers committed the offence of abuse of office for gain. For this the maximum penalty is 17 years imprisonment.

The six were handed different imprisonment sentences.

Justice Rajasinghe made a similar ruling on the offence of causing a loss, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

Copping the highest prison term was Ms Laqere. She was labelled as the “mastermind behind this scam” by Justice Rajasinghe.

While giving evidence, she had admitted that the scam took place under her leadership in the Accounts Section.

Justice Rajasinghe said: “You had provided a feasible environment for your co-offenders to carry out this scandalous crime. You not only used your position and authority to carry out this crime, but was vindictive  towards the officers who detected these false payment.”

The scene yesterday at the Suva court house was a different one. Maybe because five out of the seven sentenced were women.

But the fact remains – crimes were committed and the sentence should be a warning to those who may want to test the arm of the law.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) deserves credit for its relentless pursuit of this case.

The sentencing yesterday sends a strong message that corruption does not pay.

In fact corruption is not good for anyone and this country. It has a flow on effect on everything good we stand for.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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