Crime

Eight Alleged Fraudsters Front Magistrates Court

The five allegedly submitted their original withdrawal Urban Housing Assistance Form with the intention of inducing Fiji National Provident Fund officials to accept it as genuine, and on its acceptance dishonestly obtained a gain amounting to $49,300, which all the accused persons allegedly shared.
06 Aug 2019 12:51
Eight Alleged Fraudsters Front Magistrates Court
1 - Milio Raiyawa. 2 - Mereoni Drawe , 3 - Taniela Samutitoga, 4 - Salote Caraqeti, 5 - Adi Mara Rufina Qaranivalu, 6 - Jack Edward Hiramatsu, 7 - Temo Tuilailai and 8 - Vereti Sigavakarau Sawaqa , outside the Magistrates Court in Suva. Photo: Ashna Kuma

Eight people who allegedly defrauded the Fiji National Provident Fund appeared yesterday in the Suva Magistrates Court.

The case involves an ex-employee of the FNPF legal department, Jack Edward Hiramatsu, 41, who allegedly forged Certificate of Title documents that enabled him and seven others – Adi Mara Rufina Qaranivalu, 32; Taniela Samutitoga, 45; Milio Raiyawa, 48; Mereonie Drawe, 36; Vereti Sigavakarau Sawaqa, 35; Salote Caraqeti, 37; and Temo Tuilailai – obtain $49,300.

They appeared before Magistrate Waleen George. The alleged offence occurred between March and April this year.

Hiramatsu is alleged to have knowingly used forged Certificate of Title documents provided by iTLTB staff member, Qaranivalu, and colluded with travel agent Samutitoga, to write the title under his name.

Qaranivalu is charged with one count of forgery while Samutitoga is charged with one count of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Raiyawa, Drawe, Sawaqa, Caraqeti and Tuilailai have been charged with one count each of using forged documents and one count each of obtaining financial advantage by deception as they posed as prospective buyers of the land written under Samutitoga.

The five allegedly submitted their original withdrawal Urban Housing Assistance Form with the intention of inducing Fiji National Provident Fund officials to accept it as genuine, and on its acceptance dishonestly obtained a gain amounting to $49,300, which all the accused persons allegedly shared.

Hiramatsu, Samutitoga, Raiyawa, Drawe, Sawaqa and Tuilailai opted for legal representation from the Legal Aid Commission. Qaranivalu and Caraqeti opted for legal representation from private lawyers.

The charges were read to all the accused persons in iTaukei and English languages to which they understood.

Magistrate George also said there was a conflict of interest for her to preside on the matter because she knew Qaranivalu as a court officer from Nasinu. She then transferred the matter to be called before the Chief Magistrate. She remanded all the accused persons in custody and said the offence against them was only an allegation, however, it was serious.

Drawe’s lawyer sought bail on the grounds that she was in custody since Friday and the amount involved was only $6000.

Magistrate George said she did not want to be unfair by granting bail to one of the eight accused and remand the rest because they had allegedly defrauded and obtained funds.

She also told the eight accused to apply a formal bail application and the prosecution would respond to it.

The matter was adjourned to August 14 before Chief Magistrate.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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