Our readers will recall that Coupfourpointfive recently zeroed in on Dictator Bainimarama trying to bluff his way out of the growing stink over the corrupt behaviour of his sidekick, the illegal Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.
Our story was a result of him using pro-regime news outlets to try and douse growing disquiet over the corrupt behaviour of Sayed Khaiyum, by saying that anyone with evidence of corruption or nepotism should forward them to his office or “the appropriate authorities."
As we said then - and say again here - that's clearly a case of the corrupt investigating the corrupt!
Bainimarama's offer to investigate was just lip service, all aimed at quelling media interest and calming people who now smell blood on the military floor.
This dictator has had 'evidence' presented to him before, and has ignored it.
In 2008 our regular contributor, Victor Lal, sent to him and the much vaunted anti-corruption unit FICAC, evidence of alleged tax evasion on the part of the dictator’s then interim Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.
The material included proof of other tax scams taking place inside FIRCA, but the dictator not only buried it but proceeded to condemn Lal on 24 February 2008 at a specially convened press conference at Government Buildings in Suva.
With the help of egoist Sayed Khaiyum, the regime later also organised the abduction and deportation of Fiji Sun editor-in-chief and publisher, Russell Hunter.
FIRCA, acting on the illegal AG's instructions, and in an effort to intimidate Lal and Hunter - and stop further revelations - also initiated a series of court actions against the two men, turning to secrecy clauses in the Income Tax Act to legalise its actions.
Coupfourpointfive publishes here the letter Victor Lal sent to Bainimarama on 4 February 2008, alerting the dictator to he allegations of tax evasion and corruption against the dictator’s then interim Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and others inside FIRCA:
Re: IN RESPONSE TO “FIRCA’S RESPONSE TO FIJI SUN ARTICLE”, 4/2/08
Further to my previous communication in which I insisted that an analysis of the tax records of Mr Mahendra Chaudhry clearly establishes tax evasion, I want to re-iterate that I have no political agenda against anyone, as FIRCA continues to assert, regarding my stories in the Fiji SUN of tax evaders, and whom FIRCA is protecting.
Mahendra Chaudhry: As I stated previously, I still stand by my claims, and I have obtained further details from the Australian authorities that he has monies in Australian banks and had failed to declare the interests he received there to FIRCA. He is yet to account for the thousands of dollars he collected worldwide for the Cyclone Ami funds. I wrote to him in 2006, asking him to open up the books in relation to the funds held in the Bank of Baroda - to date he has not responded.
Fiji Water: Regarding Fiji Water, those involved in the case include the former director of Fiji Water, Mr Kubs, Mr Lyne (who was Mr Kub's expert witness in the case that Mr Kubs lost and FIRCA lawyer Michael Scott (who had given advice to Mr Kubs).
Now, FIRCA is threatening to take legal action against me. Well, I look forward to the opportunity, for perhaps what they are trying to prevent me from exposing, I will be able to expose in a court of law. On law, FIRCA’s own legal consultant, who is most likely to frame charges against me, has been found to have failed to declare $630,000 in consulting fees from FIRCA and RBF over the period June 2004 and October 2007.
According to FIRCA sources, who are disgusted with the double standard, corruption, and nepotism in their organisation claim that Mr Scott’s assessed bill still stood, with additional penalties for late payments now totalling $154,000.
The Debt Collection Department is too frightened to approach him. While admitting tax liability to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Mr Scott instead launched a vicious attack on the officer who audited him during the recent audit of FIRCA staff, calling him, according to evidence I have on me, incompetent, ignorant and someone who was full of malice against Mr Scott.
Many FIRCA officers are horrified because according to them this was the very officer who was tasked by their CEO Mr Jitoko Tikolevu and Mr Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum to investigate Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki’s tax records and had concluded that he (Justice Fatiaki) evaded taxes, and should therefore be charged with 26 counts of tax evasion - the matter is now a subject of a public enquiry.
Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki and Income Tax Act: Well, if Mr Tikolevu, Mr Filipe Bole previously, and now Mr Chaudhry claim that a taxpayer’s records are private and cannot be obtained without the permission of the taxpayer, then why Mr Fatiaki's tax records, to the minutest details, was released by Mr Khaiyum for public consumption?
Did FIRCA or the A-G or Michael Scott seek Justice Fatiaki’s permission before making it public? The truth is that there is a general apprehension that I am inching closer to the big sharks in FIRCA, including Mr Chaudhry, so the best defence is to attack the messenger, discredit me by accusing me of having a political agenda, and then to hide behind the cloth of legalism.
Tax Scam inside FIRCA: The FIRCA Board member is none other then Mr Chaudhry’s relative and appointee Mr Arvind Datt who was the subject of my front page story in the Sunday SUN. I had nothing to do with the FIRCA tender story - for that is not my area of investigation. Mr Datt has been threatening staff, I am told, and only got caught for falsely claiming rental loss on his property because he was harrying the staff to speed up his returns. I have incontrovertible evidence to support my claims that he evaded tax but was caught out.
I am told that there never was any investigation into Chaudhry’s tax matter and that Mr Bole, as chairman of FIRCA, blatantly lied to you that Mr Chaudhry was in the clear. I call upon you to ask Mr Chaudhry, Mr Datt, Mr Scott and Mr Tikolevu to step down so that a thorough investigation by an independent investigator of our choice can look into their tax records.
I still do not understand what is it that is making you so protective of Mr Chaudhry, who is simply abusing his position, and so are his supporters inside FIRCA, while identifying and pursuing his political opponents, according to those inside FIRCA.
The scale of the scandal and tax fraud committed by FIRCA top brass in fact calls for a Commission of Inquiry, which could even bring down your government if I decide to go public on the Doctrine of Public Interest like you invoked the Doctrine of Necessity to execute your December 5 2006 coup.
Let me put it the other way. It took your illegal coup to finally catch the highest judicial officer in the land, Justice Fatiaki, who now admits to irregularities in his tax returns. A report into his tax files concluded that he could be charged with criminal tax offence because “The offence was wilful as Mr Fatiaki prepared his own tax returns and was not misled into the omission by a tax agent or other person. Mr Fatiaki signed the tax returns personally including the declaration that the returns were “true and complete”. The declaration will be tendered as evidence before the court by the very FIRCA officer, who also audited Mr Scott and Datt and found that they had not honestly declared their tax returns.
So the nation is entitled to ask you why should Mr Fatiaki be hauled before a public inquiry and those around Mr Chaudhry inside FIRCA, the likes of Mr Datt and Mr Scott should be untouchables, including Mr Chaudhry.
Independent Commission of Inquiry: I am sorry to have been too long but the gravity of the scandal inside FIRCA is so deep that it needs to be highlighted. It’s time you acted against these people, and it is in their own interests to clear their names, for evidence on me, in the form of their tax files, tell a very different story.
We cannot invoke Section 4 of the Tax Act and allow them to hide, for do you really believe that they will grant me permission to analyse their tax records, if it was so, Justice Fatiaki would have been caught out long ago.
I am willing to fully co-operate with any independent investigator provided all those mentioned are suspended from their positions, including Mr Chaudhry, and failing to do so I relish meeting FIRCA in a court of law where I will be able to produce irrefutable evidence of, what appears from their tax files, systematic tax evasion by these individuals!
Editor’s Note: In March 2008, a three-member panel, hand-picked by Sayed Khaiyum, cleared Chaudhry of breaches of the Tax Act. Khaiyum had released the Team’s report saying the inquiry into tax evading allegations against Mr Chaudhry “has been put to rest, and the matter is now closed”. Now, two years after that letter from Victor Lal to the dictator, a raft of charges including money laundering, tax evasion and providing false information to FIRCA, has been laid against Chaudhry, presumably because Khaiyum and the dictator have fallen out with the former FLP leader. It is alleged, among other charges, that Chaudhry kept up to $400,000 in an account in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and that $50,000 was given to his daughter in Australia without proper Reserve Bank of Fiji stipulated procedures being followed. Among Victor Lal’s series of tax reports included the following headline in the Fiji Sun: “Minister gave $50,000 gift to his daughter”. FIRCA, and its then chairman and now another illegal Cabinet Minister, Filipe Bole, had claimed that Victor Lal was politically motivated against the illegal junta in writing those tax articles. So did Chaudhry.
Picture: Fronting up at last ..... Chaudhry outside the High Court two months ago.