Psalms 37:21: “The wicked borrow and do not repay.”
Part Two of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL
The National Bank of Fiji was raided for personal and business loans by the high and the low that in the end it spectacularly collapsed with more than $200 million in the red.
It is nearly 15 years and yet the public of Fiji is still in the dark whether those doubtful debtors ever paid the loans that they borrowed from the NBF.
In July 1996, the Fiji Times published the list of doubtful debtors who had obtained loans from the NBF’s various branches. Among them were Esala and Mere Teleni, who had borrowed $60,844.67.
The question that Teleni needs to answer is this: did he ever pay back that loan, and if so, when? If he did not repay, what was his justification for not repaying that loan. Does he consider the loan, if it is still outstanding, an outright theft of public money – shorthand for corruption?
As we know, Teleni, along with Frank Bainimarama, was one of the ring leaders in executing the 2006 coup, claiming that the Qarase government was corrupt to the core. In 2007, Teleni became the deputy commissioner of the then newly established Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).
He informed the media that some of the main organisations under investigation were the Fiji Sports Council, the Native Lands Trust Board, the Fiji Institute of Technology and Airports Fiji Limited. He said the commission has received over 600 complaints ranging from complex to simple cases of corruption and other offences. He later became Commissioner of Police.
Religion is an important part of the Bible-bashing police commissioner’s outlook and outreach, who claims, like Sitiveni Rabuka before him, that it was a calling of God that he led Fiji’s police force. In that position, he also controversially called on senior Indo-Fijian police officers to either support his Christian crusade against corruption or leave the police force.
We would want to know if he re-paid that $60,844.47 which he borrowed in 1996 on the bandwagon of that Holy Grail: affirmative action for poor indigenous Fijians?
Does he think FICAC and his Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, who has a penchant for drafting decrees, should re-open investigations into the collapsed National Bank of Fiji’s Debtors List from 1996?
After all, the former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, whom Teleni and his boss Bainimarama, in complicity with others, deposed in 2006 coup, has been charged by FICAC with abuse of office between 1992 and 1995 while being the chairman of the Fijian Holdings Limited. So has been the former managing director of FHL, Sitiveni Weleilakeba, who is charged with three counts of forgery, conspiracy to commit an unlawful act and uttering false documents.
Why should Teleni be above the law? The two senior police officers charged with allegedly trying to remove him from office have been further remanded in custody by Suva Magistrates court.
Isn’t it time Teleni voluntarily removed himself from office and called for the introduction of a decree to get to the bottom of the National Bank of Fiji scandal. He has the recent Fiji National Provident Decree as a precedent.
It is only right to ask this so-called and self-proclaimed Methodist messenger of God on earth and police commissioner if he is aware that God has a distaste for debts that are not paid in a timely manner, to quote Psalms 37:21: ‘The wicked borrow and do not repay”. Has he re-paid the $60,844.67 that he and his wife borrowed from the collapsed National Bank of Fiji?
Editor’s note: Watch this space as we will name more debtors