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Namosimalua, Witnesses Give Evidence In Ratu Suliano’s Trial

The MP is charged for breaching the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when they claimed travel and accommodation allowances, they were not entitled to.
20 May 2022 11:06
Namosimalua, Witnesses Give Evidence In Ratu Suliano’s Trial
Former secretary-general to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua outside the High Court in Suva on May 19, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

Parliament statutory declaration forms do not contain any mention of criminal proceedings if Members of Parliament declared false information.

This was revealed by former secretary-general to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua yesterday during cross-examination in the second day of trial in the case of SODELPA Member of Parliament, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua.

Member of Parliament  Ratu Suliano Matanitobua outside the High Court in Suva on May 19, 2022.  Photo: Leon Lord

Member of Parliament Ratu Suliano Matanitobua outside the High Court in Suva on May 19, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

Matanitobua is charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.

The MP is charged for breaching the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when they claimed travel and accommodation allowances, they were not entitled to.

Matanitobua is alleged to have falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Namosi Village and obtained $38,378.22 between August 2019 and April 2020.

Matanitobua’s lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo questioned the witness whether the form said anything that the content of the form being read to the declarant, the declarant understood the content, contents read back to the declaration, and declarant understood the content before signed.

Ms Namosimalua said it did not.

Mr Vosarogo questioned the witness whether anywhere in the form was mentioned that the purpose of filing it was to ascertain entitlement for the allowances.

Ms Namosimalua said no.

She also revealed in court that the Prime Minister sent her a viber message raising his concerns about allegations against some MPs claiming allowance entitlements.

She also said that a month later, the Prime Minister sent her another viber message enquiring about what her office had done in relation to the allegations against the MPs.

Ms Namosimalua said her response was that she was waiting for the then Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma’s response to whom she had sought legal advice from. She also said that while making a Parliamentary submission, the Minister for Economy had also enquired about the matter as there were talks regarding allegations of MPs receiving allowances which they were not entitled to.

Ms Namosimalua said that she had advised the Speaker of Parliament about what was happening in regard to the claims and talks and was told to try and look into the matter internally.

She said in a phone conversation between Mr Sharma and her, she was advised to report the matter to the FICAC.

She had visited the Opposition office and met with MPs to speak to them about the claims, however, Matanitobua was not there.

She did not attempt to contact the MP thereafter about the allegations.

 

FICAC Witness Peniasi Daveta

Mr Daveta told the court he had filled the allowance claim forms for Matanitobua.

He said the forms were signed by Matanitobua and later filled by him to assist in the claims.

He said forms were scrutinised by his senior officer before it was submitted to the Parliament secretary-general’s office.

He said in the form, he had written 86 kilometres as distance between Namosi and Suva as provided by Matanitobua.

 

FICAC witness Sarwesh Narayan

Mr Narayan is a senior finance officer at the Parliament of Fiji.

Mr Vosarogo questioned the witness if an MP traveled from 31 kilometres away from Parliament, would the MP be entitled to claim allowance.

Mr Narayan said yes.

He said the claim amount was the same for meal and accommodation for any MP despite their permanent residence being beyond 30 kilometres from Parliament.

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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