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Prosecution Witness: Mps Given Declaration Forms To Verify Allowance

Matanitobua is charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count of false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.
31 May 2022 17:11
Prosecution Witness: Mps Given Declaration Forms To Verify Allowance

Prosecution witness in the case against SODELPA Member of Parliament, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, said MPs were given statutory declaration forms to verify their allowance payouts.

Atelaite Rokosuka, the former director of corporate services in Parliament, was testifying on Day Four of the case at the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva yesterday.

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

It is alleged that the MP breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when they claimed travel and accommodation allowances they were not entitled to.

The allegations were brought by the former Parliament Secretary-General, Viniana Namosimalua.

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

Ms Rokosuka told the court that prior to the 2018 General Elections, there were no forms available.

However, they created the form in 2018 for the Secretariat to use it for verification of the MPs’ allowance payouts.

She said the reason the form was created was that the finance department faced issues with regard to the MPs permanent residence addresses.

She also told the court that the declaration form was acquired for the MPs mileage and travel allowances.

Matanitobua’s lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo questioned the witness about when the forms were handed to the MPs.

Ms Rokosuka said the forms were given to the MPs on the day of their swearing-in which was November 26, 2018.

She also said that the forms were to be submitted by the MPs on November 29, 2018.

Mr Vosarogo asked the witness whether the MPs were educated on the forms.

Ms Rokosuka said the same was highlighted and explained to the MPs during the induction training which was held between December 4 and December 5, 2018.

 

Change of address

The court also heard that Matanitobua had his address listed as Veivatuloa village in his Fijian Elections Office voter registration details when he registered on July 2, 2012.

Fijian Elections Office operations officer Josephine Kumar told the court that Matanitobua’s polling venue was noted as Veivatuloa Village School in Namosi.

She told the court that on November 30, 2021, Matanitobua amended the information on his voter registration and noted Namosi as his province as previously the FEO system had Veivatuloa, Veivatuloa as the address.

For Matanitobua’s wife Adi Akenata Matanitobua, Ms Kumar said her residential address initially in 2012 when she registered was as Veivatuloa village in Namosi.

She said last year when Ms Matanitobua updated her voter card, the FEO system recorded her address as Veivatuloa in Navua.

She added that the clerk who filtered the form in the system committed an error when she was updating Ms Matanitobua’s information.

Another witness from FEO, Mesake Dawai, the political parties’ engagement and compliance officer, said Matanitobua had four incomes declared to the FEO.

He said these were of his salary, allowances, pension, and Ms Matanitobua’s salary.

He also said Matanitobua had two vehicles and a house declared as well.

Mr Dawai told the court that Matanitobua’s house was located at Veivatuloa village in Namosi and it was also stated as his residential address to the FEO.

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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