NEWS

Woman Who Caused Loss To The Sugar Industry To Serve Five Years Jail Term

A 33-year-old Lautoka woman was sentenced to five years imprisonment for receiving $285,680.96 proceeds of crime into two bank accounts which she shared with her husband. Preetika Anuwesh Lata was
13 Dec 2017 15:34
Woman Who Caused Loss To The Sugar Industry To Serve Five Years Jail Term

A 33-year-old Lautoka woman was sentenced to five years imprisonment for receiving $285,680.96 proceeds of crime into two bank accounts which she shared with her husband.

Preetika Anuwesh Lata was sentenced to two years imprisonment for one count of receiving proceeds of and five years imprisonment for money laundering.

She was ordered to serve the terms concurrently with a non-parole period of two years imprisonment.

Between February 14, 2013 and May 14, 2014 the accused Lata dishonestly received the amount with the knowledge that the money was proceeds of crime were derived directly or indirectly from some form of unlawful activity.

During her sentencing the accused was told that the sugar cane industry suffered a severe setback due to the fraudulent activity committed by her in collusion with her husband.

It was revealed that Lata’s husband Sudhanshu Sharma joined the Fiji Sugar Corporation in 2011 and was in-charge of payroll for about 2000 employees and non-staff members.

In 2012, a new payroll processing software was implemented and her husband was the officer responsible for processing and consolidating the payroll and generating bank files for all FSC employees.

As the payroll officer the accused’s husband fraudulently transferred FSC funds to the couple’s accounts without the knowledge of the sugar corporation.

Judge Justice Aruna Aluthge told her that even though she knew she was not entitled to receive payments from the FSC she continued to receive the proceeds of crime into her bank accounts and used it to cover family expenses.

When the matter came to light and before Police investigations began the accused’s husband resigned from the FSC and fled the country for the United States of America.

Lata admitted that their two accounts had received proceeds however she denied any knowledge about illegal money being deposited in their accounts.

When Police investigated she returned $169,640 and agreed that the money in her accounts belonged to the FSC, except for her wages remitted by her employer.

Justice Aluthge said the fact that Lata was not responsible for the offence that generated money to be laundered by her husband it did not make the offence less culpable.

She was told that the amount laundered was considerably high and the extent of her contribution to commit the offence and hinder its detection was considerable.

Justice Aluthge also took note of the fact that the accused was still using the car bought by her husband from the money laundered.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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