Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum continues to breach financial regulations by favouring his friend John Prasad.
Prasad, a New Zaland citizen and a very close family friend of the Khaiyums, is currently Acting Permanent Secretary for Finance and has elevated himself as the Group Chairman of Fiji National Provident Fund. He is also the Chairman of Fji Water Corporation and when he initially came to Fiji, was appointed Chairman of Fiji Development Bank - a position he still holds.
Fijilive yesterday reported Sayed-Khaiyum as saying Prasad is not getting paid for being on the Boards of the statutory organisations. He said, as a civil servant Prasad is only receiving his salary for the Finance permanent secretary's job.
But according to Coupfourpointfive sources Sayed-Khaiyum is hiding the truth. Sources say that when Prasad became FDB Chairman, he was employed as a Financial Consultant to Frank Bainimarama at an annual salary of $120,000.
Under financial regulations, an expatriate has to pay a provisional tax of 15%. But Sayed-Khaiyum ordered the Finance Ministry to refund the entire 15% tax to Prasad. He also directed the money be repaid from FIRCA's operational budget. The Finance Ministry complied with Sayed-Khaiyum's directive, despite the fact that it was unlawful, even if the approval had come from interim Finance Minister, Bainimarama.
Sources say as acting Finance Permanent Secretary, Prasad is being paid $80,000 annually. The figure is more than the previous post holder received and $7,000 more than the minimum of $73,000 set by the regime in early 2007 when the post of chief executive officer was downbgraded to permanent secretary. Sources say it is likely that Prasad is also enjoying tax exemption at 31%, being in the higher bracket of salary earners.
Prasad has also enjoyed plush accommodation at the expense of taxpayers. As FDB Chairman and financial consultant, he was occupying the posh Quest apartments, located in Suva Central comlex, in the heart of Suva next to Central Police Station.
Sources say Prasad is currently living in the newly-built upmarket Victoria Apartments opposite the Victoria Tennis Courts in Suva.
The Victoria Apartments is owned by milionaire Labasa businessman, Charan Jeath Singh. Singh is a close friend of Ratu Epeli Ganilau and contested the 2006 elections under the banner of Ganilau National Alliance Party of Fiji (NAPF)
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was the legal advisor to NAPF. His father, Sayed Khaiyum, is employed by Singh as his properties manager. The interim AG's friendship with Prasad and him staying at an apartment managed by Sayed Khaiyum senior is nepotism and corruption conveniently being ignored by Bainimarama.
In past cases of former Fiji citizens turned expatriates plundering the Treasurery: Two months ago, another New Zaland citizen Francis Narayan was kicked out from FNPF after he was pocketing $160,000 a year for acting as a investment consultant.
Their colleague, John Samy, also from New Zealand, pocketed a minimum of $120,000 in salary for a 10-month contract to draw up the Peoples Charter.