A key figure in Fiji's illegal government has appeared as a witness in the court case against two Chinese nationals accused of trying to bribe him in return for a contract for a water project in Savusavu.
The Permanent Secretary for Finance, John Prasad, is giving evidence against Chen Xue Liang and De Chuan Zhao.
The Fiji Village says the men are from the China Huashi Enterprise Fiji Limited, and have pleaded not guilty to one charge of allegedly bribing a public officer in July 2009.
It's believed the two men gave Prasad $6000 and a box of Chinese tea to promote, to procure and to obtain a contract for the water and sewerage upgrade work in Savusavu.
The Fiji Village says Prasad told Judge Justice Salesi Temo that the Media Officer from the Ministry of Works Sainiana Waqainabete called him to arrange a meeting with the two accused as they wanted to discuss a water project with him in his capacity as Permanent Secretary for Finance and Chairman of the Water Authority of Fiji.
Prasad said according to Waqainabete the two wanted to meet him alone and a time was arranged for 5:30 on the afternoon of July 28th last year. He revealed that he met the two in his office at Ro Lalabalavu house in Suva.
Prasad said during the meeting, the two told him about their company and showed him photographs of other projects they have done for the Water department in the past.
Prasad told the court that the two than allegedly gave him a bag containing Chinese tea.
He said after the meeting, while he was walking the two to the exit, Zhao allegedly gave him an envelope containing money.
Prasad says he looked into the envelope and put it in his office and went into another meeting.
The Permanent Secretary for Finance said he then tried to call the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khiayum, failing which he called the Minister for Finance Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to inform him of the incident as he was not sure how to report the matter.
Prasad said Commodore Bainimarama advised him to try and call the Attorney General again.
He said he managed to get hold of Sayed Khaiyum who then advised him to detail the incident in writing and email to him and also that the money be counted in front of FICAC Officers to verify the amount of cash in the envelope.
Prasad said that evening, he was called by the two accused and he told them that he cannot accept the gift, it was inappropriate and that he will have to report them.
He said while he was in the process of emailing the Attorney General, the two accused sent him text messages.
FICAC lawyer Vincent Parera presented a copy of the text message in court which stated and I quote " I am sorry but I really need your help. I promise that no one knows about the gifts. It is just traditional Chinese gift" end of quote.
Another text message presented in court read and I quote, " I am sorry, I am sorry, I don't know Fiji tradition, this simple Chinese tradition as I want to meet the Prime Minister to introduce my company so I give gift to you" end of quote.
Prasad told the court that from the meeting and what transpired afterwards, he felt that the two accused went to him to induce a bribe to get the contract for the Savusavu water project.
During cross examination by defense counsel Gavin O'Driscoll questioned Prasad on how he was the Chairman of the Water Authority of Fiji at the time of the alleged incident when the Authority was formally set up in January 2010.
O'Driscoll also pointed out that his clients had placed a bid for the contract in question in March 2009 when the alleged incident occurred in July of the same year.-Fiji Village.