The abuse of affirmative action for poor Fijians:
Ganilau family’s Qeleni Holdings Ltd owed $716,748 to collapsed NBF
Ratu Epeli Ganilau owed $631,594 to the bank
Part Twelve of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL
The demand by the present illegal regime that directors and 90 per cent of the beneficial shareholders of the media organizations are Fiji citizens permanently residing in Fiji should be thoroughly discouraged, and vehemently opposed, if we are to avoid a repeat performance of the collapsed National Bank of Fiji which saw the taxpayers losing over $327 million.
In the guise of affirmative action for the poor i-taukei, the “elite” Fijians, the Rotumans, the Part-Europeans and Indo-Fijians with political connections or capital, saw the NBF as a ‘milking cash machine’, including the Ganilau family whose Qeleni Holdings borrowed heavily from the collapsed NBF.
What is surprising, or unsurprising, is that while Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, as Sitiveni Rabuka’s paramount chief in Cakaudrove, and a beneficiary of the 1987 coups, and possibly a coup conspirator, was chiding non-Fijians for economically holding down his i-taukei subjects, he and his family were up there with the non-Fijians obtaining loans from the NBF coffers without any restraint, moral guilt or checks and balances from bank watchdogs.
Who could stop them? Nobody! After all, the mantra at the time was that ‘Fijian locals’ took control or formed companies owned and managed by themselves – in the case of the i-taukei, the elite Fijians and paramount chiefs.
Moreover, Ratu Penaia was company director of Qeleni Holdings while holding the position of President of Fiji under the overtly racist 1990 Constitution. His counterpart paramount chief and Rabuka’s Prime Minister, Ratu Mara, whose daughter is married to Epeli Ganilau, the present Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration was up there with the Ganilau family, running his own companies.
As to the Mara family’s secret business empire, we will write on them on another day.
The Articles of Association with the Registrar of Companies in Fiji indicate that Qeleni Holdings was formed on 30 November 1981. On 4 March 1988, second year into the Rabuka coup, the Ganilau family are cited as involved in Qeleni Holdings Ltd; Qeleni being the homestead of the family.
Particulars of Directors and Secretaries state as follows:
(1) Ratu Sir Penaia Kanatabatu Ganilau, Fiji citizen, c/- Govt. House, Suva, President of Fiji;
(2) Estate of Asilini Davila Ganilau, c/- Govt. House, Suva, Deceased;
(3) Ratu Epeli Gavidi Ganilau, Fiji citizen, c/- Govt. House, Suva, Army Officer;
(4) Ratu Tomasi Korovakaturaga, Fiji citizen, c/- FBC, Programmer;
(5) Ratu Jone Daunivavava Ganilau, Fiji citizen, c/- Govt. House, Suva, Civil Servant;
(6) Adi Sivokidaveta Lusiana Ganilau, Fiji citizen, Govt. House, Suva, Student;
(7) Ratu Fugawai Isoa Ganilau, Fiji citizen, c/- Govt. House, Suva, Sailor;
(8) Ratu Joseva Lalabalavu Sukuna Vanayaliyali Ganilau, c/- Govt. House, Army Officer;
(9) Ratu Antonio Jone Rabici Rabaraba Ganilau, Fiji citizen; c/-Govt. House, Clerk; and
(10) Ratu Meli Vunivalu, Fiji citizen, Bank Officer;
(11) Adi Mei Vikatoria Kainona Gauna.
The secretary of the company was stated as one Semesa Sautu. The form of particulars was signed off by Epeli Ganilau in his capacity as director.
It is worth noting that most of them gave their postal address as Government House, which Ratu Penaia Ganilau was enjoying as illegal President under the protection of Rabuka’s guns, whom he had not only granted immunity but had promoted as Major-General of the Royal Fiji Military Forces (Royal – even though Ganilau and Mara had treasonously dumped Her Majesty the Queen (despite the objections of Ratu George Cakobua, the Vunivalu of Bau) as head of Fiji after declaring Fiji a republic in order to achieve their racist vision of ‘Fiji for Fijians’ – shorthand for ‘Fiji for the Ganilau-Mara family’).
On 23 April 1991 a new revised list was sent to the Registrar of Companies which now included Adi Mei Vikatoria Kainona Gauna, Fiji citizen, c/- FBC, Programmer; and James Michael Ah Koy, Fiji citizen, c/- Govt. House, Company director. Ah Koy served as Minister for Commerce, Industry, Trade, and Public Enterprises in the government of Prime Minister Rabuka from 1994 to 1997, when he became Minister for Finance, a position he held till his SVT Party lost the 1999 general election to Mahendra Chaudhry, ousted in the 2000 coup but who after the 2006 coup became Bainimarama’s short-lived Finance Minister.
Ah Koy (Sir) is presently Bainimarama’s ambassador to China. On 18 April, according to the company records, Ah Koy had resigned from Qeleni Holdings, even though the ‘Particulars’ was signed 23 April 1991.
In its ‘Form of Annual Return of a company Having a Share Capital’, Qeleni Holdings stated on 16 March 1993 as follows: Share Capital and Debentures – (a) Nominal Share Capital - $50,000 divided into 50,000 Ordinary shares of $1 each. (b) Issued Share Capital and Debentures: Number of shares of each class taken up to the date of this return (11 Ordinary) shares; Number of shares of each class issued subject to payment wholly in cash (11 Ordinary) shares; Number of shares of each class issued as fully paid up for a consideration other than cash: Nil.
Still earlier on and shortly after the inception of Qeleni Holdings, the company had informed the Registrar of Companies: Total number of shares of each class forfeited? Nil. Total amount paid (if any) on shares forfeited: Nil. Total amount of indebtedness of the Company in respect of all mortgages and charges which are required to be registered with the Registrar of Companies under the Companies Act: $735,115.
As required under the Companies Act, Qeleni Holdings had also stated that “We certify that the company has not since the date of* the last annual return issued any invitation to the public to subscribe for any shares of debentures of the company, and that “We certify that to the best of our knowledge and belief none of the shares of the company is held by a company which is not a private company and that which is a subsidiary of a company which is not a private company and that this has been the position at all times since the date of (the incorporation of the company/the last annual return).
On 4 October 1993 the Registrar of Companies certified the following particulars relating to a ‘Mortgage, securing the sum of $250,000 dated the 26th day of February, 1993 given by QELENI HOLDINGS LIMITED and registered in accordance with the provisions of Part IV of the Companies Act has been varied to secure the sum of $763,000.00’.
National Bank of Fiji
Earlier, on 14 September 1993, Qeleni Holdings had provided the following ‘Particulars of Mortgage or Charge Created By A Company Registered in Fiji’.
Date and description of the instrument creating or evidencing the Mortgage or Charge:
26th day of February 1993
Amount secured by the Mortgage or Charge:
Umpstamped by $513,000 to cover advances totalling $763,000
Short particulars of the property mortgaged or charged:
Certificates of Title Nos. 15723, 15724 & 15725
Names, address and description of the mortgagee:
National Bank of Fiji, a body corporate having its head office at Suva, Fiji.
Note: A search of the Certificates of Titles on which Qeleni Holdings obtained $250,000 from the NBF reveals the following: No 15723 – Lot 30 on DP 3974, Serua, Viti Levu; No 1574 – Lot 30 DP 3974, Serua, Viti Levu and 15725 – Lot 32 on DP 3974, Serua, Viti Levu.
Basically, as Qeleni Holdings records reveal, on 26 February 1993, the company informed the Registrar of Companies: ‘We hereby certify that at a duly constituted meeting of the directors held on the 1st day of February 1993, the Company is hereby authorised to borrow and obtain further financial assistance and banking accommodation from the National Bank of Fiji of up to $250,000’.
It provided the three Certificates of Titles as guarantee for the loan.
Similarly, at another board meeting on 14 September 1993, it was resolved that ‘That the mortgage dated 26th day of February 1993 containing a first charge in favour of National Bank of Fiji over Certificates of Title Nos. 15723, 15724 & 15725 be upstamped by a sum of $513,000 to cover advances totalling $763,000’.
Both these letters were signed off by Epeli Ganilau as one of the directors of Qeleni Holdings.
Messers Esesimarm & Co., Solicitors of Suva were authorised and engaged to carry out all necessary legal formalities in connection with the security for the NBF in accordance with the requirements of law and to ensure that the security ‘constitutes good and valid legal security to secure the Bank’s advances and accommodation to the Company’.
On 13 February 1998 Qeleni Holdings, under the Companies Act of 1983, gave notice that the Registered Office of the Company was situated at Natasa estate, Saqani, Cakuadrove.
Like many other companies and individuals, on Friday 6 June 2003, Justice Davendra Pathik (In the High Court of Fiji at Suva, Civil Jurisdiction – Winding Up Action HBE 85/2001) declared: ‘This Court Doth Order that the said Qeleni Holdings Limited be wound up by this court under the provision of the Companies Act, 1983 and that Official Receiver be constituted Liquidator of the affairs of the Company.’
In a cruel twist of irony, it was none other than in the Fiji Times, now told to have 90 per cent local shareholders, in which the petition for wounding up was published. In Justice Pathik’s words: ‘UPON READING the said Petition, the Affidavit of Trevor William Seeto, Manager Legal of Suva in Fiji, Verifying the said Petition filed on the 1st day of August 2001 and the Memorandum filed on the 11th day of October 2001 containing the advertisements of the said Petition with the Fiji Times newspaper dated 28th day of September 2001 and the Fiji Republic Gazette on the 25th day of September 2001.’
The unsuspecting readers of the Fiji Times, especially the so-called i-taukei population, in whose name the soft loans were set up by the NBF, had no idea that Qeleni Holdings Limited was a Ganilau family dynasty business outfit.
Nor were they aware that the Ganilaus were associated with Qeleni Holdings Ltd when the Fiji Times published that Doubtful Debtors for 1995/1996 as at June 19, 1996 under the headline ‘National Bank of Fiji’s Bad Loans’. Qeleni Holdings, according to that Debtors List, owed the collapsed bank’s Suva branch $716,748 and Ratu Epeli Ganilau owed $631,594.
Now, the very Fiji Times has been given three months to abide by the obnoxious media decree to open its ownership to locals when it took over a decade to bring to a close the financial dealings of Qeleni Holdings Ltd. We are yet to know if the Ganilaus’ ever settled those massive debts, over a million dollars which belonged to the taxpayers of Fiji Islands.
There has never been a public inquiry into allegations in 1992 that Qeleni Holdings had sold the new residence for Rabuka as Prime Minister for an inflated price of over $650,000 when it was valued by a Government valuer for merely $450,000.
We wonder whether Fiji Times is being punished for its past revelations or whether the provisions in the Media Decree requiring 90 per cent local ownership is another ruse by another military coupist regime to form a Qeleni-type holdings to buy out the Fiji Times, and in the process make a raid on taxpayers savings in the name of ‘local ownership’.
Cakaudrove Provincial Holdings Limited (CPHL)
Qeleni Holdings was not the only outfit of the Ganilaus’; Ratu Penaia Ganilau’s own Cakaudrove Provincial Council made a raid on the National Bank of Fiji, with debts totalling thousands of dollars. That is another story, and for another day.
Briefly, according to the 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. Ganilau had formed CPHL while simultaneously holding down the position commander of the Royal Fiji Military Forces.
As I have already previously disclosed, Epeli Ganilau was listed as owing $631,594 and Kubuabola had borrowed $194,000. CPHL was listed as owing thousands of dollars to the NBF in 1996. In 2007, Fiji Development Bank is listed as mortagee and CPHL as mortgagor and the particulars of directors are as follows: Sitiveni Rabuka, Consultant; Pasikali Bale, Retired Director of Customs; Viliame Cegumalua, Managing Director- Global Amen Ltd; Suliano Ramanu, Accountant and Jonati Torocake, Manager.
Aiyaz Khaiyum, Media Decree and NBF Debt Decree?
In his press conference Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, himself holding cross-Cabinet positions, ordered the media, especially the Fiji Times: “All media organisations have three months from today, to ensure that their directors and 90 per cent of the beneficial shareholders of the media organisation are Fiji citizens permanently residing in Fiji. I wish to make it clear that any media organisation which fails to comply with this requirement shall cease to operate as a media organisation, and shall also be liable for an offence under the Decree. At this stage, Fiji Times is the media organisation that needs to comply with the ownership requirements.’
It was Fiji citizens, and not ‘Foreigners’ who ripped the bottom out of the National Bank of Fiji. In the words of former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem, the affirmative action programme was a slush fund for the privileged.
We issue a challenge to Khaiyum to draft a retrospective National Bank of Fiji Decree and order the Ganilaus’ to pay up their debt, if they have not paid up yet, in the next three months.
Their paid up shares was $11 with 11 family members at $1 each. Qeleni Holdings, like Vakatora Holdings Ltd, was another $2 ($11) company in the making, walking away with over $700,000 in loan from the NBF.
As records in the Companies House in Suva on Qeleni Holdings reveal, all its directors (the Ganilaus) gave their nationalities as FIJI CITIZENS, and worst, their addresses were c/- GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Suva, Fiji.
It is time, yes, time, Khaiyum read Lord of the Flies, ‘Maybe there is a beast, I mean may be the beast is just us’.
Indeed, the financial and corrupt beasts are in his own ranks and not in the Fiji Times office in Gordon Street in Suva or in its headquarters in Sydney, Australia.
The 90 per cent local ownership decree is a secret charter for ‘corruptodiles’ swarming around or hiding under the sulu of Bainimarama and his military in 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, including Epeli Ganilau, who is charged with the national security of the nation.
Last month Frank Bainimarama ordered that the Fijian Affairs Board and Fijian Holdings Ltd pay back the $20 million that was given to them by government 21 years ago. The Mara-Ganilau government gave the $20 million interest free loan to the Fijian Affairs Board in 1989 to help accelerate and broaden the participation of i-taukei Fijians in commerce and business (In practice the elite and chiefly Fijian families). The FAB injected the $20 million loan into Fijian Holdings Ltd to enhance Fijian business.
In 2001, a Laisenia Qarase-led government agreed to convert the loan to a grant and the relevant amendment to the loan agreement was agreed to. However on 30 June, Bainimarama’s Cabinet agreed to convert the grant to the FAB back into a loan. Bainimarama argued that given the need to instil prudent and transparent financial practices in the use of government revenue, it was imperative that the loan, which was converted to a grant in 2001, be recovered and repaid to government coffers. He said the FAB will remain liable for this loan.
If so, the same should apply to the Ganilau family, who must be forced to pay back the millions they borrowed from the collapsed National Bank of Fiji – the loans were written off 15 years ago because the powers to be were the ones who were responsible for the demise of the country’s national bank – all citizens of Fiji.
The Ganilau Family must be brought to book over the biggest loan scandal in Fiji’s history – and others.
Editor’s Note: We will continue to reveal debtors names, which includes those of high chiefs, politicians, Indo-Fijians, 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 vloxford@gmail.