Ratu Mara’s Lomaloma Resort Ltd owed $186,782 to the taxpayers
Part Thirteen of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL
A foreign visitor to Lomaloma wrote on her website: ‘Lomaloma is the main town on Vanua Balavu. We saw 4 shops there and a telecom tower that had been erected in 1989. This used to be an important port for ships coming from Tonga, but has declined. Lomaloma has houses with rounded roof ends - showing Tongan influence. The island is where the defunct Lomaloma resort was located - its decaying bures can be seen from Lomaloma.’
The visitor omitted to mention that the Resort, the privately owned island retreat of the Mara family, is dead with big rats its only guests these days.
The Mara-Ganilau dynasty was at the time of the visitor’s trip to Lomaloma firmly in control of Fiji’s destiny following the 1987 Rabuka coups. The first President of the Republic of Fiji who was appointed under Section 4 of the Appointment of Head of State and Dissolution of Fiji Military Government Decree, on 5 December 1987 was Ratu Sir Penaia K. Ganilau, the former Governor-General of Fiji, and Rabuka’s paramount chief from the Cakaudrove Province.
He was, as I have noted in the previous instalment, one of the directors of Qeleni Holdings, along with the other Ganilau clan, whose company owed the National Bank of Fiji a staggering $716,748.
The Cakaudrove Provincial Holdings Company Ltd (CPHL) was listed in the NBF’s Debtors List as having borrowed $102,656.64. Briefly, according to company records, CPHL was formed on 5 October 1995. The two directors named were as follows: Ratu Epeli Ganilau, FMF Commander, Director of Cakaudrove Provincial Holdings Ltd, and Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Cabinet Minister, Director of CPHL.
Sitiveni Weleilakeba was listed as secretary to the company.
Epeli Ganilau had formed CPHL while simultaneously holding down the position commander of the Royal Fiji Military Forces. He resigned his army post effective from 28 February 1999. He had wished to pursue a political career but failed miserably at the polls, and later got through the backdoor into Bainimarama’s Cabinet following the 2006 coup, carried out under the guise of removing corruption and corrupt businessmen and their corrupt business practises.
As we know, Epeli Ganilau is the son of Ratu Penaia and son-in-law of Ratu Mara who, after the 1987 coups was appointed as the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji under an Interim Government.
We may recall that Mara’s Interim Government constituted the Fiji Constitution Inquiry and Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Colonel Paul Manueli, which reported to President Ganilau on 30 August 1989. The Committee’s findings were considered by Cabinet and the Great Council of Chiefs, which met for three days at the RFMF headquarters in Suva from 14-16 March 1990. The Constitution was approved in principle and most of the recommendations in the so-called ‘Manueli Report’ formed the basis of the overtly racist 1990 Constitution which was promulgated and came into effect on 25 July, 1990 by decree.
A month later, on August 1990, the Loloma Resort Limited was registered as a company. Most critics of Mara are aware of his famous statement, a part of his defence for joining Rabuka’s military government: ‘How could I stand by and watch my house on fire.’ Similarly, both Mara and Ganilau claimed that they could not stand by and see their subjects lagging economically behind the non-Fijians.
The Ratu Mara-led Interim Government (1988–91) adopted a nine-point affirmative action plan and Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL), formed in 1984 by Fijian provinces as an investment company, was loaned $20 million to buy shares in established successful companies. Subsequently, the SVT Government decided to make the FHL loan into an outright grant but in June 2010, Bainimarama and his Cabinet agreed to convert the grant to the Fijian Affairs Board back into a loan.
Lomaloma Resort Limited and Japanese Businessman
As we have demonstrated previously, the loans were a vehicle for a group of elite Fijians and their paramount traditional chiefs to acquire wealth for themselves and their families on the back of poor i-taukei ones. Ratu Mara went further than most. Instead of going into partnership with his fellow subjects, he went into business partnership with a Japanese businessman from Osaka, Japan.
Particulars of Directors and Secretaries of Lomaloma Resort, March 1996, were as follows:
Ratu Sir Kamisese Kapaiwai Tuimacilai Mara; Nationality: Fiji citizen; Postal Address; c/-Government House, Suva; Occupation: President of the Republic of Fiji
Tsutio Yokota; Nationality: Japanese; Osaka, Japan; Company Director.
On 29 June 1992, Mara’s eldest son Ratu Alifereti Finau Mara, a barrister and solicitor, was appointed as one of the directors alongside his father and the Japanese businessman. Finau Mara, as we have written elsewhere, was in the Parliament of Fiji on that treasonous day, 14 May 1987, directing Rabuka’s soldiers into the parliamentary chamber to capture members of the Bavadra Cabinet.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Lomaloma Resort was a Mara relative and businessman Solomone Makasiale.
In its ‘Form of Annual Return of A Company Having A Share Capital’ for 31 December 1995, lodged under the Companies Act, its registered office was listed as 94 Waimanu Road, Suva. The Company also disclosed that its authorised capital was 500,000 ordinary shares of $1 each and the issued capital was 100,000 ordinary shares at $1 each. Further, Lomaloma Resort had a mortgage loan of $823,822 then.
When the National Bank of Fiji collapsed, Lomaloma Resort was listed among the ‘Debtors List’ as owing $182,782.
Whatever happed to Ratu Mara T/A (Trading As) Lomaloma Resort Limited? Despite the collapse of the bank, the Resort was still operational, at least on paper. In its 2008 annual return to the Registrar of Companies, the registered office of the company was changed to Level 10, FNPF Place, 343 Victoria Parade, Suva- GPO Box 855. The authorised and the issued capital remain the same as in 1995 but there was no mortgage loan.
While Yokota, the Japanese businessman from Osaka and Finau Mara were still listed as directors, new Mara-Ganilau siblings joined the company as its directors and secretaries:
(1) Adi Koila Nailatikau, the wife of the present President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and former deposed Minister of Tourism in the Chaudhry government;
(2) Adi Ateca Moceiwaqa Ganilau, the eldest daughter of Ratu Mara and wife of Epeli Ganilau, the Minister of Defence in Bainimarama’s Cabinet;
(3) Adi Asenaca Margaret Kakua Mara, the third daughter of Ratu Mara and a local businesswoman who for a number of years managed her father’s Lomaloma Resort;
(4) Adi Elenoa Mara (formerly Rasova), Ratu Mara’s youngest daughter, divorced from her husband and now married to FNPF CEO Aisake Taito;
(5) Adi Litia Cakobau Dugdale, the fifth child and fourth daughter of Ratu Mara, married to a British citizen Henry Stratford Dugdale;
(6) Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara; the youngest son of Ratu Mara and present Commanding Officer of the Third Infantry Regiment, a key position in the Fijian military as he controls the infantry division, that has about 500 gun-carrying soldiers, the very soldiers he orders to harass and torture the opponents of the present illegal regime.
The secretaries of the company were listed in the ‘Particulars’ as Adi Acenaca Margaret Kakua Mara and Adi Litia Cakabau Dugdale. The details of the ‘Particulars’ as required under the Companies Act was signed off in 2007 by Adi Koila Nailatikau, in her capacity as one of the directors of Lomaloma Resort Company.
Tevita Uluilakeba Mara has been very prominent recently in the censorship controlled Fiji media. In his capacity as chairman of the Fiji Pine Limited, Uluilakeba had lodged an official complaint to Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) claiming that two former Tropik Woods executives, its board chairman Ratu Meli Saukuru and former financial controller Daniel Mani, sold the Fiji Forest Industries to Alec Chang, the former CEO of Tropic Woods for $340,000 without proper due diligence. He claimed that as a result Fiji Pine Limited suffered a $2.11million loss following the sale.
Last week the trio were charged by FICAC and have since appeared before the Lautoka Magistrates Court. Each is charged with one count of false pretence. Chang is further charged with one count of abuse of office. Ratu Meli and Mani are also separately charged with one count of aiding and abetting abuse of office.
It is alleged that on 2 April 2009 – with the intent to defraud – Chang and Mani caused the Tropik Woods Board to deliver the ownership of Fiji Forest Industries to Chang by providing incorrect and misleading information regarding the financial figures of FFI. Mani is alleged to have suggested to the Tropik Woods Board to sell FFI to Chang on a as-is-where-is basis with company liability of $3.8 million.
The Board later resolved to sell FFI to Chang for $340,000 on the condition that he takes up the $3.8m liability. On 6 May, 2009 – the sale was finalized but there was no clause on the agreement regarding the $3.8 million liability. It is alleged Saukuru as chairman signed the agreement knowing the clause didn’t exist. FICAC says their investigations value FFI at $6.2 million.
The three’s plea has been differed to a later date, and they have been bailed for $2,000 with surety of $5,000. They have been ordered to surrender their travel documents by 1pm tomorrow and not to re-offend. They have each been ordered to the report to Police every Saturday and not to interfere with witnesses.
The treatment of the three is in complete contrast to those implicated or suspected of defrauding the collapsed National Bank of Fiji. Police investigations into the NBF scandal revealed fraud, corruption, and gross abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretences and obtaining credit by fraud. And the debtors remain scot-free, many supporting or benefitting from the 2006 coup.
Uluilakeba Mara claims that Fiji Pine Limited suffered a $2.11million loss following the sale. He must be reminded that the National Bank of Fiji suffered a loss of $327 million of taxpayers’ money because of the bad debtors – among them the Mara-Ganilau family dynasty.
We wonder if Lomaloma Resort Limited ever re-paid its debt of $186,782 it was listed as owing to the bank in 1996? The Resort is not operational as a tourist resort. There are no financial returns. Therefore why the bank has not claimed the island back as collateral?
What is also interesting is that Lomaloma Resort Limited’s debt of $880,000 is something like eight times it’s paid up share capital. Doesn’t this make it technically insolvent and could the debt be an NBF hangover? Here, one is reminded of another Mara venture, the Lomaloma Coconut Mill, which the former Auditor-General Michael Jacob’s found, not operating and overgrown.
The Mara dynasty never misses a chance reminding us of the economic success and business prowess of the clan – pointing out how Yatu Lau Company limited, formed by Ratu Mara in 1972 out of $7 is now a $24million company. Yatu Lau was established as a model for other Fijian Provinces to emulate, as an investment vehicle for the people of Lau, and Adi Koila Nailatikau is its present chairperson.
There is, however, no mention of Lomaloma Resort Limited or the collapse Vanua Air Fiji Ltd, another Mara clan business venture. Nor the Mara-Ganilau dynasty speak of the Cakaudrove Provincial Holdings Company Ltd (CPHL) which was listed in the NBF’s Debtors List as having borrowed $102,656.64. And one of the directors was Epeli Ganilau, who himself is listed as owing $631,594, and the Ganilau family’s Qeleni Holdings, owed the NBF a staggering $716,748.
Their combined total, if they have not paid a single cent back to the NBF, runs into millions.
As I have stated before, a Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed and a retrospective National Bank of Fiji Decree must be promulgated to hold these Mara-Ganilau clan to account.
The Lomaloma Prison
In the meantime, if they have not paid back those loans, Uluilakeba Mara should be made to run around the army barracks 186,782 times (for every dollar owed) and Epeli Ganilau should be told to run around – to perform that famous ‘exercise’ - 631,594 times. And afterwards, the family must be forced to pay back the loan (with interest) if they have not done so.
There should also be an inquiry to establish whether Adi Ateca Moceiwaqa Ganilau directly or indirectly benefitted from the $631,594 that her husband obtained from the NBF? Was she aware of the loan and what was the massive amount used for? Was it ever paid back?
There cannot be two laws in Fiji – one for those yielding the power of the gun, and inter-alia power and control over FICAC, and another for their opponents.
Lest we forget Exodus 34: 7 - ‘Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the 3 and 4th generations’.
Editor’s Note: We will continue to reveal debtors names, which includes those of high chiefs, politicians, Indo-Fijians, Rotumans, Part-Europeans, business houses, including individual supporters of the present illegal junta in Fiji. If you or your family has paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Top picture: The Lomaloma Prison.