#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-06-13

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi says he is not the same person on NBF List

In our last posting we noted that there was one Lekh Ram on the collapsed National Bank of Fiji's Debtors List who borrowed $23,000 from the Sigatoka branch. We invited Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, the short-lived Cabinet Minister in Bainimarama’s post-2006 coup government, to inform us if he was the same person as the one stated on the NBF List.

Vayeshnoi has responded by informing us that he never borrowed a single cent from the NBF and nightier he had any account with the collapsed bank.

We accept and appreciate his swift response, for it is not our intention to malign him or others but to expose those on the list.
In the absence of any concrete records, co-operation from individuals like Vayeshnoi is the only way to bring sense to the debtors list, which saw the taxpayers losing $387million.

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 have paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Koya estate, Parmanandam Chaudhry's National Farmers Union owed National Bank of Fiji

The Siddiq Koya Estate owed $87,134:
Koya’s side-kick late Vijaya Parmanandam owed $40,770.31: And Chaudhry’s National Farmers Union $600:

Part Ten of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL

 
Siddiq Moidean Koya was to the Indo-Fijian community what Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was to the Fijians. The two were regarded (portrayed themselves) as the respective custodians of the rights and aspirations of the two deeply and mutually antagonistic communities whom the British had kept apart by their divide and rule policies.

  
In Koya’s case, he is generally but not solely credited with paving Fiji’s independence from Great Britain on 10 October 1970. But the brief explosion of joy which marked the ushering in of independence, the political honeymoon between Mara and Koya, and the rapprochement between the Alliance Party and the National Federation Party during the London constitutional talks came to a close after the first general election in 1972. 

The Alliance Party, led by Mara, easily won 33 out of the 52 seats in Parliament: the NFP won 19 seats. By the time of the 1972 general elections, communal polarization between the different racial groups was complete. Mara, claiming to represent the i-taukei, and by now securely ensconced in power, immediately set about trying to consolidate his hold of the country.
  
The Mara-Koya rift publicly widened when Koya was denied the Prime Ministership on 7 April 1977 despite winning a razor-edge majoritTy of 26 seats in the first of the two general elections in that year. The politically bruised and battered Koya claimed that the Governor-General Ratu Sir George Cakobau’s decision to re-appoint Mara to head an Alliance minority government had ‘eroded and devalued democracy’, and he accused the Alliance Party of creating an ‘alarming situation’.

The personal conflict reached its climax when Koya deliberating whipped up Indo-Fijian sympathy by charging that Mara’s and the Alliance’s acceptance to form a minority government was because they did not want an Indo-Fijian Prime Minister in Fiji. He said their decision was an ‘insult to the Indo-Fijian community and its self-respect’. 
  
Ratu Mara, in response, invoked culture, and presented his acceptance of the office as being the act of a subordinate chief with a duty of obedience: ‘I obeyed the command of His Excellency the Governor-General, the highest authority in the land and my paramount chief. I obeyed him in the same manner that thousands of Fijians obeyed their chiefs when they were called to arms – without question and with the will to sacrifice and serve.’

After that political debacle Koya’s political fortunes never recovered, and he finally resigned his leadership of the NFP shortly before the 1987 general election. He died in April 1993, leaving behind his widow Mrs Amina Begum Koya, and three children, daughter Shenaaz and sons Faiyaz and Faizal. His widow subsequently became the executrix of Siddiq Koya’s estate.

Chief Justice Anthony Gates and Koya and Company


In 1993 Mrs Koya approached Anthony Gates, who was now working for the Commonwealth DPP’s Office in Brisbane, Australia, to return to Fiji and take over the practise of Koya and Company, which he duly agreed. Gates was no stranger to Fiji’s judicial world. He first took up appointment as Crown prosecutor in the office of the DPP in 1977. He became the Deputy DPP in 1981 and a resident magistrate in 1985. 


The Sitiveni Rabuka regime dismissed him as a magistrate when he refused to take a fresh oath of office to the coupist Rabuka and his co-conspiratorial overlords Mara and Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, president and prime minister respectively. Gates was appointed by the FLP to the Fiji High Court in November 1999.
  
But he surprised and disappointed a large band of his admirers (who admired him for his famous decision in the Chandrika Prasad case in which he had held that the 1997 Constitution had not been abrogated by the military intervention of Bainimarama to end the Speight coup, and that the Constitution continued to be the law of the land) when he became acting Chief Justice in April 2007 after the Bainimarama coup of 2006, and later as now the Chief Justice of Fiji.
  
However, a year after returning to Fiji in 1993,Gates found himself explaining his involvement in the law firm of Koya and Company when Mrs Koya was charged, convicted and imprisoned for arson. She was found guilty of “wilfully and unlawfully setting fire to the office of Messrs Koya and Company situated in the Popular Building, Vidilo Street, Lautoka on 23 March 1994”. She had set fire to the building in an insurance fraud to recoup business losses. It must be categorically stressed that Gates had no role in the insurance fraud nor was involved with Mrs Koya in setting fire to the Lautoka office. She had acted alone in the arson.
  
The Fiji Court of Appeal heard from the son of one of the owners of Popular Building, Mohammed Janif, who gave evidence that the Lautoka office had been let to Koya & Company for some years. By late 1993 the rent was seriously in arrears. Mrs Koya had been supervising the firm’s Lautoka office since Koya’s death. It had been agreed that the firm should vacate the office on 31 March 1994. 
  
Gates gave evidence that in July 1993 after Koya’s death Mrs Koya asked him to come to Fiji and take over the practice. It was agreed that he should take over only the firm’s Suva office; Mrs Koya wanted to keep the Lautoka office operating for her sons (Faiyaz and Faizal) and to practice there when they qualified and tried to find a solicitor to take over  Koya’s Lautoka practice on a temporary basis. She was unable to do so and, Gates said, he agreed in November 1993 to take over all professional and financial responsibilities for the Lautoka office. 

The agreement provided for him to purchase for $7500 the whole practice of the late Koya together with his law books, furniture, office equipment, etc. However, under the agreement Mrs Koya was entitled, on giving three months’ notice within five years, to have the practice handed over by Gates to her sons together with the law books, furniture, office equipment etc. 

As the law required that there be a barrister and solicitor in each of the Suva and Lautoka offices daily, Gates tried to find one to be employed in Lautoka. He was unsuccessful. He attended at the Lautoka office himself about two days a fortnight, he said, but that was not proper compliance with the law. He, therefore, informed Mrs Koya in February 1994 that the office might have to close at the end of that month. The decision was shelved until March, when he discovered that the landlord had sent a bailiff to levy distress because the rent was seriously in arrears. He arranged with the landlord to pay all the rent from the time he had taken over the practice and did so. 
  
The Lautoka office of the practice not only was not staffed daily by a barrister and solicitor but also was being operated at a loss. Gates gave evidence that he was not willing to continue keeping it open. He had kept it open only to try to assist Mrs Koya  to have a practice for her sons to operate when they qualified. He gave the landlord notice that the firm would vacate the office on 31 March 1994. He arranged with Nadan, a clerk in the firm, to have a “closing down” meeting with him and Mrs Koya on 24 March. He informed Mrs Koya of the meeting, he said. 
  
However, Nadan gave evidence that on 23 March Mrs Koya told him that she was going to Suva next day to conduct some other business with a Mr Mahendra Chaudhary (FLP leader and later Bainimarama’s former illegal Finance Minister who was caught hiding $2million in a secret Australian bank account which he had got from India for the poor Indo-Fijians). Nadan said that Chaudhary was overseas and that he told Mrs Koya so. The packing and moving out was to begin on that day. 

After the fire, Gates said, Mrs Koya wished to complete the insurance claim but he considered that as principal of the firm, he should make the claim. If the claim had been met, he said, he would have paid to Mrs Koya the amount recovered less the expenses he had incurred in paying the arrears of rent and discharging the debt owed to the insurer, which had to be paid before it would deal with the claim. 
  
In the end the Fiji Court of Appeal upheld the three year sentence imposed on Mrs Koya. She appealed to the Supreme Court (with Nazhat Shameem representing the State) which reduced the sentence to two years because of Mrs Koya’s age. The court maintained that there was evidence of careful planning on Mrs Koya’s part and the loss suffered was $90,000. 

The motive was gain. In convicting Mrs Koya, Justice Lyons in the High Court in Lautoka had earlier stated that it was committed for the financial benefit of herself and her family; that she embarked on a scheme of deception involving others in order to deflect suspicion from her; that she intended the fire to go beyond the Koya premises by spreading kerosene along the passage; and that she put the businesses and livelihoods of other tenants in the building at risk and betrayed the respect and trust in which they held her. 
  
On the positive side Justice Lyons had referred to Mrs Koya’s otherwise excellent character and her long history of involvement in community and religious affairs together with the assistance she had given to others less fortunate than herself. Other matters he saw as weighing heavily in her favour were the support she had given her husband in his law practice over many years and the way she had discharged her family responsibilities.

But Justice Lyons rightly stressed the seriousness of arson, emphasising that the Court must ensure that its sentence delivered the right message to the community by marking its condemnation of such conduct and acting as a deterrent to others. 
 
Against these considerations Justice Lyons sought to balance what he called Mrs Koya’s “personal unique requirements”. These were primarily her age and state of health. She was born on 20 June 1930 and was 66 at the time of sentencing. A medical report of 14 May 1996 (a month before the NBF Debtors List was printed in the media) described her as suffering from undiagnosed abdominal pains, hypertension and depression for which she was under medication. There was, however, no medical evidence indicating that a prison term was likely to affect her expectation of life or her ability to serve a 3-year sentence. 
  
Justice Lyons also took into account the stress to which she would have been subject from the time of Koya’s death in April 1993, when she attempted to keep his practice intact for their two sons. In dismissing the appeal against conviction and sentence, Justice Maurice Casey in the Fiji Court of Appeal stated: “It failed within 12 months, and it can be accepted that the prospect of losing the benefit of all the work she had put into it must have affected her judgment and driven her to this uncharacteristic act of criminal folly. Regrettably, of course, she is not the only person who has resorted to fire insurance fraud to recoup business losses.”
  
During her trial, a former employee of an insurance company gave evidence that early in November 1993 Mrs Koya renewed the insurance of the contents of the office, the insurance having lapsed in 1992. The amount of the cover was $100,000. After payment of $1573.05 by Mrs Koya on 4 November 1993, the firm still owed the insurer $5962.55. The witness also gave evidence that on 21 March 1994, two days before the fire, Mrs Koya called on him to seek confirmation that, despite the indebtedness, the policy was still in force. He confirmed that and, in response to her inquiry, told her that the amount of the cover was $100,000.
  
Mrs Koya had persisted in maintaining her innocence, to quote Justice Casey ‘despite what can only be described as an overwhelming circumstantial case against her, reflected in the fact that the assessors took only 15 minutes to reach their verdicts. The lack of a responsible acknowledgement of guilt - or indeed of any expression of remorse for her conduct - precluded the Court from reducing her sentence to reflect such an attitude’.

Faizal Koya: Bainimarama’s magistrate


In a cruel twist of co-incidence (or prior arrangement) both Gates and Faizal Koya (also Speaker of the Fiji Muslim League) saw their paths cross once again following the Revocation of Judicial Appointments Decree. On 20 April 2009 Faizal Koya, 10 days after the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, was suddenly appointed one of nine magistrates, and a month later, on 22 May 2009 Gates, from his father’s old law firm of Koya and Company, took oath of allegiance as the new Chief Justice of Fiji.


Anthony Gates taking oath as Chief Justice in May 2009

 
In accepting the Chief Justice’s post Gates said he his colleagues accepted their appointment to the bench because they did not want a repeat of 1987. Having served as a judicial officer through all of Fiji’s five coups, Gates claimed that from such efforts would emerge a truly independent judiciary and in time a closer approximation to the Rule of Law than Fiji has had in 20 years or more.

 
Mrs Amina Koya Begum and National Bank of Fiji Loan

 
On 4 January 2010, Mrs Koya was laid to rest by close family and friends in Lautoka. In his eulogy the Attorney General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Mrs Koya was indeed a tower of strength to all who knew her: “There is indeed a time for everything – you come to this earth with nothing and you leave with nothing. Mrs. Amina Koya was a pillar of strength to her husband and children and was always willing to help anyone who needed her help…this is a great loss to Fiji….her life is motivation for all of us because of the way she lived it-with nobility and humility.” 

  
The FLP leader Chaudhry expressed his deepest condolences at the passing away of Mrs Koya: ‘She will always be remembered with honour and respect as the wife of the late Mr Siddiq Koya, former Leader of the Opposition and one of Fiji’s esteemed leaders who helped shape our country in its formative years. Mrs Koya will be remembered in her own right as a person of remarkable fortitude who stood firmly by her husband throughout the vicissitudes of his political career. I regret I am not able to personally pay my last respects to her as I am currently away in India. My sympathies and that of the Fiji Labour Party to her children Faiyaz, Faizal and Shehnaz, and to other members of the family.”
  
It is true that the dead do not tell tale but Mrs Koya’s death is yet to answer one intriguing question: who took out that loan of $87,174 from the collapsed National Bank of Fiji, a loan which never featured in her original trial and conviction in the High Court in Lautoka nor during her appeal before the Fiji Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court. The three courts all heard of her financial woes but nothing about the debt to the NBF. Was it the late Siddiq Koya who took out that loan or was it Mrs Koya, perhaps, to finance the education of her two sons in London?
  
When was that loan taken out: before Koya’s death or after she had invited Fiji’s present Chief Justice Anthony Harold Cumberland Thomas Gates to take over the running of the law firm, Koya and Company. In the 1996 NBF Debtors List, the Estate of Koya is listed as one of the defaulting borrowers.
  
As Nazhat Shameem, who was charged with the uphill task of prosecuting the NBF loans scam once remarked, what was supposed to be an affirmative action program to advance soft loans to the disadvantaged indigenous population was in fact a slush fund for the privileged, many of whom were not even indigenous? How true; the Koya estate definitely falls in the last category. 
  
The Koyas’ were not alone, for other non-Fijians also borrowed from collapsed  NBF besides the elite as well as chiefly Fijians, resulting in a loss of $372million to the taxpayers.

Vijaya Parmanandam


Siddiq Koya’s side-kick, the lawyer, NFP parliamentarian and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the late Vijaya Parmanandam, owed the NBF $40,770.31.

Chaudhry’s National Farmers Union


And Chaudhry’s own NFU is listed as owing $600 to the collapsed NFB. We do not know how much the NFU had borrowed in the first instance.

Lekh Ram???

There is also one Lekh Ram who borrowed $23,000 from the NBF’s Sigatoka branch? Is he the Sigatoka farmer Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, who represented the FLP from the Nadroga Indian Communal Constituency in 1992, 1914, 1999, 2001 and 2006 elections? 

  
Vayeshnoi was one of the hostages George Speight had released in May 2000 after he (Vayeshnoi) had reportedly signed a paper resigning his seat in Parliamet. In 2006 he became a Cabinet minister in Qarase’s multi-party Government but had publicly sided with Bainimarama in his confrontation with the Government throughout the previous year. 
 

Vayeshnoi condemned the surcharge of $49,000 the Government had levied against Bainimarama, as military commander, for blowing his budget. After the 2006 coup, in which he lost his Cabinet post, Vayeshnoi was once again back in Government; on 9 January 2007 he was appointed to the Interim Cabinet formed by Bainimarama. He left Cabinet after his political leader was unceremoniously dumped as interim Finance Minister.

Editor’s Note: If you are not the same Lekh Ram, we ask you, Vayeshnoi, to drop a note to Victor Lal. 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 have paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com

In June 2009 Coupfourpoint five also revealed that  Faizal and Faiyaz Koya, the two sons of former NFP & Opposition leader, the late Siddiq Koya, were facing a $184,000 bankruptcy claim – which sources said could have led to Faizal Koya’s decision to accept appointment as a magistrate under the New Legal Order. According to the sources, it could not be established whether the $184,000 was trust funds kept by the law firm operated by the two brothers or by their late father.

See Koya bankruptcy papers 

HYPERLINK "http://www.mediafire.com/?zyitj3nntyb" http://www.mediafire.com/?zyitj3nntyb

"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" Exodus 34:7.
 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vakatora Holdings owed massive amount to collapsed NBF

Tomasi Vakatora Jnr and Vakatora Holdings owed collapsed National Bank of Fiji $1.4million.
Bainimarama to FIA Congress: ‘Would the debacle of NBF have been picked up earlier if the auditors and accountants rather simply highlighting matters, brought it to the fore? Brought it into the public domain?’

 
Part Nine of Special Report by VICTOR LAL

 
Tomasi Vakatora, the CEO of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATHL), owed $72,992.98 to NBF.
The family’s Vakatora Holdings Limited owed $1,350,000 to NBF. Vakatora was listed as the company’s accountant.

 
In his opening address to the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress at the Sharinga-La Fiji Resort Frank Bainimarama, the self-styled Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, National Planning, Public Service, Sugar, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, Sugar, Indigenous Affairs and Multi-Ethnic Affairs and Provincial Development, told his listening accountants that, ‘Frankly speaking, the accountants in public practice have whether calculatingly or otherwise, escaped the ire of the public’.

  
He began by commenting on the Fiji National Provident Fund: ‘After all, is it only the fault of the then directors and management of FNPF Board that FNPF has had to write off in excess of three hundred million dollars from its books? When the excesses pertaining to Natadola and Momi were taking place, weren’t accountants involved? Didn’t they have responsibility to bring it to the public’s attention, for example, that some parties were paid monies which were not commensurate with the services and expertise that were allegedly provided?'
  
Bainimarama also commented on the National Bank of Fiji loans scam, the first time he has spoken on the subject since seizing power in the December 2006 coup: ‘Would the debacle of NBF have been picked up earlier if the auditors and accountants rather simply highlighting matters, brought it to the fore? Brought it into the public domain?’
 

Bainimarama continued: ‘Professional privilege is always cited as a reason for silence. But surely when the then FNPF Board and Management continued to misrepresent its books to the people of Fiji, didn’t the auditors rather than simply drawing it to the attention of their clients, have at the very least a moral obligation to disclose such matters to the media, public officials and the public?’
 

Ironically, hypocrisy was on show here – how could the media have published anything on the FNPF (I have a wealth of highly confidential documents and reports etc on the FNFP saga) when the obnoxious media censorship exists in the country? The proposed draconian media decree will bury the truth about the FNFP saga, and a sanitised version will be allowed by the regime, pointing the fingers away from the junta who appointed the FNFP Board in the first instance. 
 
Remember Deloitte! How can the team investigate without fear or favour when, in fact, as Coup Fourpointfive has found out, that Deloitte (Fiji) was  auditors for APRIL, NLH, NBRL and YBRL (All companies involved in Natadola) at the commencement of the project? Deloitte was part of the APRIL team that sold the idea to FNPF to invest in Natadola. In 2007, when the new FNFP Board came onto the scene, Deloitte for some reason handed over all accounts and documents in their custody to APRIL. 


The Board had to institute legal action to recover the documents which was partly recovered when the appointees themselves were removed from the Board. As a result, the 2007, 2008 FNPF accounts were qualified. The mess took place when Deloitte were in charge. Now they are supposed to tell us what is wrong.
  
Meanwhile, Bainimarama continued his righteous sermon to the assembled accountants: ‘Conversely, I know that some accounting firms while claiming to stick to the rules such as professional privilege have breached your very own code of ethics. Your manual on code of ethics states that firms should not audit companies in which the firm’s employees or partners have relatives employed. 

Yet this has happened in the recent past by supposedly reputable firms. Furthermore there was no disciplinary action taken by the Fiji Institute of Accountants. Perhaps such lapses demonstrate that there may be a need to set up an independent disciplinary body. You need to ask yourselves, should I continue to overlook certain irregularities by my clients and/or fellow practitioners? – irregularities, perhaps not illegal but which constitute dubious actions, gross negligence, and misrepresentation to the public.’
  
In making appointments to public institutions, one wonders whether Bainimarama and his team ever took pains (very good at inflicting pain on their opponents) to carry out a check on the history of individuals they have appointed to strategic public and financial positions. In April 2007, five months after the December 2006 coup, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATHL) statement said its company secretary Tomasi Vakatora (Jnr) had been appointed as acting chief secretary by its board of directors. 


Group chairman Kanti Tappoo said Vakatora deserved the opportunity to serve at the helm of the company, having played key roles in the acquisition of ATHL by the FNFP in late 1998, developed the company into fully operational mode in early 1999 through to the public offer of ATHL shares and the company’s public listing in early 2002 and addressed numerous issues and challenges that ATHL faced to date.
  
Vakatora said ATHL had yet to realise its full potential. “I am pleased with the confidence that the ATH board has shown in me with this appointment even though it is on an acting basis. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us like deregulation, but I am of the view that ATH is still to realise its full potential,” he said. 

He said he was fortunate to have a good board to work with to move the company forward. The ATHL statement said Vakatora was the company secretary and corporate affairs executive, serving in the positions since April 4, 2004. It said he would continue in the position in addition to his new appointment, adding that Vakatora represented ATHL's interests as a director for Fiji Directories Limited, Vodafone ATH Foundation Limited and FINTEL. In January 2008 Vakatora was appointed CEO of ATHL.
 

From his new position he has made many pronouncements, and most recently was quoted as saying that ATHL will have zero tolerance on approach on staff involved in money laundering and corruption. This is after it adopted a revised version of its Code of Corporate Governance Principles. Vakatora said further revision of its code later in the year was likely, depending on the outcome of Government's review of the Companies Act.
 
Vakatora’s profile read as follows: ‘He is an accountant by profession, and is a Chartered Accountant member of the Fiji Institute of Accountants (‘FIA’), and Certified Practising Accountant (‘CPA’) member of CPA Australia…He has served on the FIA’s Surveillance Panel, and is currently a member of the Disciplinary Committee. Mr. Vakatora has served as a Director of a number of companies in Fiji. 
  
One position that has not been included or mentioned in any press announcements is that Vakatora was accountant to his family’s Vakatora Holdings Ltd, one of the many companies that defaulted on their loans from the collapsed NBF. 
  
The governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Sada Reddy, revealed to his listening accountants at the Fijian Resort that the taxpayers paid out a total $372million for the collapse of the NBF, and not $220 million, as it was originally stated when the bad loans were written off. In other words, $152million was left out of the figures revealed to the public in 1996.

Vakatora Holdings Limited


A search of the Vakatora Holdings Ltd’s company file in the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ROC) in Fiji reveal that the above company was formed by the late Tomasi Vakatora, a political allay of Ratu Mara and Alliance Party nominated Speaker of the House of Representatives before the 1987 coups.


He had also held various ministerial positions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1995 he was the Government’s representative on the Constitutional Review Commission which culminated in the now abrogated 1997 Constitution of Fiji.
  
A year before the 2006 general elections, he began advocating the merger of i-taukei led political parties but Fijian political infightings saw the collapse of his ‘Fijian coalition’ dream. He also drew sharp political flak from Indo-Fijian and other minorities when he called on them to accept population changes which favoured indigenous Fijians.

He wanted the changes to be reflected in the composition of Parliament, meaning a reduction in seats for Indo-Fijians and other minority groups. Mahendra Chaudhry, Kenneth Zinck and Mick Beddoes rejected Vakatora’s suggestion. He was also involved in the establishment of the Noco Development Bus Company. 
  
According to the Particulars of Directors and Secretaries of Vakatora Holdings Ltd (No of Company 7891), as presented by chartered accountants Ernst and Young, to ROC, the following persons were stated as follows: Tomasi Rayalu Vakatora, company director; his wife Wainiqolo Rarawa Vakatora, company director; Tomasi Wainiqolo Vakatora, accountant; Selai Wainiqolo Tonganivalu, company director; Lenaitasi Rayalu Vakatora, company director (appointed 23/9/93); Suliasi Rayalu Vakatora, company director, appointed 23/9/93. The secretaries to the company were as follows: Selai Wainiqolo Toganivalu, resigned 23/9/93 and Lenaitasi Rayalu Vakatora, appointed 23/9/93. 
  
Selai, daughter of Tomasi and Wainiqolo, married Emosi Pita Toganivalu, whose son Deve Toganivalu was appointed CEO of Fiji Development Bank after the 2006 coup. In October 2008 the chairman of the FDB, John Prasad announced on behalf of the Board of Directors Toganivalu’s new appointment. Prasad himself has a controversial past, and arrived with John Samy from New Zealand after the 2006 coup to take up position as Permanent Secretary in the Finance Ministry. 
  
On 10 December 1991 Tomasi and Wainiqolo Vakatora exchanged loan documents with the NBF, affixing the common seal of Vakatora Holdings Ltd, a limited liability company, having its registered office in Suva. On 4 June 1993, the Vakatora Holdings gave notice pursuant to Section 67 of the Companies Act that ‘the nominal capital of the Company has been increased by the addition thereto of the sum of $100,000 beyond the Registered Capital of $100,000’. The additional capital was divided as follows:
Number of shares: 100,000
Class of Shares: Ordinary
Nominal amount of each share: $1.00
Signed: Tomasi Vakatora, Director.


On 16 October 1995, the NBF notified ROC that the Collateral Debenture dated 30 April 1992 was ‘now being upstamped’. The amount secured by the mortgage or charge in the Particulars of Mortgage or Charge created by NBF now read: ‘Upstamp by $300,000 (three hundred thousand dollars) to secure total of $2.1million (two million one hundred dollars). Short particulars of the property mortgaged or charged: ‘All its undertakings and all its assets whatsoever both present and future, including its uncalled and unpaid capital’. 
  
On the same day another document reads: (1) Collateral Bill of Sale dated 14 February 1994 (now being upstamped); (2) Amount secured by the mortgage or charge: ‘To secure sum of $2.1million (two million one hundred thousand dollars) and further advances; (3) Short particulars of the property mortgaged or charged – Mitsubishi Bus, Registration Number CQ632 and Mitsubishi Bus, Registration Number CQ710.
  
But on 10 June 1997 the chief manager of NBF’s management bank notified the Registrar of Companies that it had appointed Brian John Murphy of Messers KPMG, chartered accountants, Suva, to act as Receiver of Vakatora Holdings Ltd in pursuance of the powers contained in a Debenture dated 30 April 1992. The Notice of Appointment of Receiver was made under the Companies Act 1983.
  
Between 10 June 1997 and 11 May 1998, the official receiver provided to ROC receipts and payments with a total balance of $523,477.23.
  
On 16 November 1999, Justice Devendra Pathik of the Fiji High Court ordered that ‘the said Vakatora Holdings Limited be wound up by this court under the provisions of the Companies Act and that Official receiver be constituted Liquidator of the affairs of the company’. 

On 17 October 1997, in a separate civil action against Vakatora Holdings and two others, Pathik had awarded judgment of $37,560 against them, to be paid to one Anjula Wati, widow of a self-employed peanut seller Suruj Prasad who had died at the CWM Hospital on 8 October 1992 after being hit by one of the buses belonging to the Company, which admitted liability.
 
Analysis

 
It appears that Vakatora Holdings originally borrowed (in 1991) an unknown sum from the NBF, secured against the assets of the company over which the bank took a mortgage, giving it first claim on those assets in the event of a default. There's nothing unusual in that.

  
Then, on June 4, 1993 VHL increased its nominal capital by $100,000. Note that doesn’t mean they put in $100,000 cash. There’s a difference between nominal shares and paid up shares. We don’t know how many shares were actually paid up but it seems unlikely to be 100,000. 
  
We couldn’t find how many shares had been fully paid up. If, as we suspect, it’s two, then VKL becomes the classic $2 company whose unpaid shares were worthless as far as a bank mortgage was concerned. However, they may have increased the nominal capital just to make the loan look good on paper. Two years later the NBF “upstamped” the mortgage meaning it had lent more money with consequent security (the worthless shares?). Since the “upstamping” was in the amount of $300,000, it may be (but is by no means certain) that the original loan was $1.8 million with the “upstamping” lifting it to $2.1 million. 
  
Note that the bank states its right to “all uncalled and unpaid” capital, suggesting that there were unpaid shares of unknown amount.  Basically, though, it seems the bank had two buses of unknown condition as security against $2.1 million (“and further advances”). That would appear to be hopelessly insufficient as borne out by the receiver's payment to the bank of only some $500,000. Under normal circumstances the bank would have pursued the directors for the balance. However, did this happen? And what was the $2.1 million (or more) used for? 
 
In his address to the chartered accountants Bainmarama had ended his speech by noting as follows: ‘ I contend that as a public practitioner and as a citizen of this country, one has a fiduciary duty to all Fijians and the Fijian State - not just your clients. After all, it is paradoxical and simply wrong to avoid contributing to or undermining the State on one hand but on the other expect high levels of State services. That is not ‘getting together’. Indeed it is an untenable proposition. 


"I urge you to think about good governance, ethics, morals, accountability, transparency, common and equal citizenry not as mere clich├ęd terms, as amorphous concepts, but actual and tangible precepts to be put into practice by all of us, if we are indeed genuine and honest with ourselves and our country. By addressing these issues in a very fundamental way you will in practice ‘get together’ and truly ‘move ahead’.’
  
The former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem had said that what was supposed to be an affirmative action program to advance soft loans by the NBF to the disadvantaged indigenous population was in fact a slush fund for the privileged, and some of whom were cronies of people in authority.
  
The so-called ‘Anti-Corruption Czar’ Bainimara told the accountants: ‘Your manual on code of ethics states that firms should not audit companies in which the firm’s employees or partners have relatives employed. Yet this has happened in the recent past by supposedly reputable firms. Furthermore there was no disciplinary action taken by the Fiji Institute of Accountants. Perhaps such lapses demonstrate that there may be a need to set up an independent disciplinary body.’
  
Perhaps he should begin by asking the CEO of ATHL, Tomasi Vakatora, what role he (Vakatora) played as the accountant to Vakatora Holdings Limited which owed $1.4million, according to the NBF Debtors List of 1996.
  
To quote a judge in another case between the NBF and one of the Bank’s defaulters: ‘Furthermore no timeframe was fixed for the Plaintiff to dispose off the liabilities and assets of the former National Bank of Fiji. It continued its operation for an uninterrupted period of over 11 years. As a consequence of persistent delay, perhaps many of the defaulting borrowers have escaped the wrath of the justice system.’
  
And whether Vakatora Jnr ever re-paid his own personal loan? He was listed as owing $72,992.98 to the collapsed National Bank of Fiji in 1996. 
  
It is time Bainimarama practised what he was preaching to the accountants, and set up an independent commission to hunt down and punish all those in the NBF loans scam, supposedly earmarked for the ‘downtrodden i-taukei’ after the 1987 Rabuka coups. 
 
He should begin by taking to the military barracks the NBF defaulters ensconced in his own regime. For as I noted in the first instalment on Nazhat Shameem’s uphill fight against the ‘Corruptodiles’, police investigations into the NBF scandal revealed fraud, corruption, and gross abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretences and obtaining credit by fraud.
 
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 have paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com

Monday, June 14, 2010

Government review of 2010 budget a result of poor preparation

The Fiji government is currently in the process of undertaking an internal review of its 2010 Budget.

The government claims this is a normal process adopted for prudent and transparent financial management of national finances.

In a government release, it has been indicated that such reviews become imperative, in particular when extraneous and unforeseen events occur.

It has been highlighted that the 2010 Budget did not take into account the devastation left by cyclones Tomas and Mick.

“These natural disasters required the rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure, additional agriculture assistance and the provision of additional allocations to the health and education sectors,” the statement said.

It is being estimated that the additional finds required for such purposed will be at least $30 million.

Another $5 million is being estimated as cost for the biosecurity breach which necessitated the Termite Eradication Porgramme.

The review of the 2010 Budget will also enable government to assess the rate of implementation of its capital works programme.

Following the review, the government is expected to consider any necessary measures to be put in place to ensure improved utilization and prudent management of national finances and resources.

Editor's Note: What this really means is that the budget was poorly prepared and based on unrealistic revenue assumptions. The explanation on natural disasters makes no mention of the aid that has been arriving in cash and kind. As usual, it's one big cover-up for the regime's incompetence. Presumably we'll now have a "mini-budget" or similar in an attempt to paper over the fiscal cracks while the efforts to extract cash from the FNPF will be redoubled.

FNPF ‘perpetrators’ have escaped: Nazhat Shameem tells congress of accountants

Former Fiji High Court judge Nazhat Shameem says any criminal offences in losses leading to the $320 million Fiji National Provident Fund write off cannot be prosecuted under the stronger provisions relating to corporate crime under Fiji’s new Crimes Decree.

“The Crimes Decree applies only to offences committed after February 1, 2010,” Shameem told the annual Fiji Institute of Accountants congress in Sigatoka .  “And I’m afraid it’s too late for Natadola and for Momi Bay and for FNPF,” she said.“If criminal offences have been committed, then we’re back to the old Penal Code offences.”
  
Shameem said prior to the law reforms of 2007 and 2009 under which the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) and the Crimes Decree were created, prosecutors were forced to prosecute the most serious fraud and corruption as “abuse of office”, a statutory child of the old common law offence of “misconduct in public office” and which carried (until this year) a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment, and four years if the prosecution could prove personal gain. 
  
The maximum penalty now under the Crimes Decree is 10 years imprisonment and 17 if done for gain. Source: Fijilive, June 11, 2010 11:07:53 PM
 
Editor’s Note: In March 2007 Shameem had publicly admitted her failure, as head of the DPP’s Office, to bring to justice those involved in the NBF scam, currently serialized by us. She had made the comments at an anti-corruption workshop organised by Transparency International Fiji. Shameem had said about $200million in the NBF was advanced from 1988 to 1992 and all the internal mechanisms which were supposed to check corruption and that sort of lending did not expose the failure until the media did (P.S. The very media this illegal regime’s A-G Khaiyum is trying to stifle through the proposed Media Decree). She said what was supposed to be an affirmative action program to advance soft loans by the NBF to the disadvantaged indigenous population was in fact a slush fund for the privileged, many of whom were not indigenous and some of whom were cronies of people in authority. 

 
We say, indeed, for so far those we have indentified from the NBF Debtors List include Ratu Epeli Ganilau, the Minister of Defence and National Security, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni, Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Methodist Church, SVT general secretary Ema Druavesi and others. Keep visiting our site to see ‘Who was Who’ on that Debtors List involved in the NBF scam.

Lawmakers owed NBF $908,416

Part Eight of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL

Kelemedi Bulewa

Two prominent nationalist lawmakers were among hundreds listed as defaulted borrowers from the National Bank of Fiji in 1996. The late Kelemedi Bulewa, the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General in Sitiveni Rabuka’s Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, owed $352,416 to the collapsed bank.

Bulewa had replaced Apitaia Seru after the latter, in 1992, had settled out of court for $10million with the controversial local businessman Tony Stephens who had demanded compensation for wrongful arrest and detention. The deal with Stephens could have seen him part with $98,000 in cash, his mortgage with the Home Finance Company and the NBF paid off, and the Soqulu Plantation in Tavenui which the NBF had taken over, revert back to him.

The Deed of Settlement was to be exempt from income, land sales and VAT. But the NBF refused to honour the deed settlement which Seru had allegedly signed without parliamentary approval. There was strong suspicion that Seru was not acting alone, with Fiji Times editorializing that, ‘the sorry mess suggests powerful forces, answerable to no one but themselves, are at work to undermine constitutional authority.

Bulewa was no guardian angel of the rule of law and constitutionalism. He was one of a few handfuls of Fijian lawyers who were either publicly or secretly drafting a new republication Constitution for Rabuka to consolidate his racist vision of Fiji, all in the name of the upliftment of i-taukei, and from the economic clutches of the Indo-Fijians. Like others before him, when the NBF Debtors List was lifted open for public consumption, Bulewa was right up there with other defaulters, owing $352,416 to the NBF.

Qoriniasi Bale  


Like Bulewa, Bale was suspected of having been part of the inner circle around Rabuka during the 1987 coups. He, after all, had lost his job as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice when Ratu Mara’s Alliance Party had lost the April 1987 election to Timoci Bavadra’s FLP-NFP coalition. In 1984 the Governor-General Ratu Penaia Ganilau had appointed Bale to the Senate as Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s nominee to the then Upper House.

Shortly after the Alliance Party’s defeat, its most powerful arm, the Fijian Association, convened a meeting and passed a vote of no confidence in the FLP/NFP Coalition. Among those who attended this meeting which was chaired by Tanieta Veitata (another NBF loans defaulter), were Ratu Finau Mara (who was in Parliament on 14 May 1987 directing soldiers through the parliamentary chamber), Bale, Filipe Bole (now a Cabinet Minister in Bainimarama’s illegal government) and Jone Veisamasama, general secretary of the Alliance Party.

Veisamasama told the meeting that the Coalition government contained more Indo-Fijians at the decision-making level. The Fijian Associaiton meeting, as had Apisa Tora and Inoke Kubuabola’s (another illegal Minister in Bainimarama’s regime), resolved that the 1970 Constitution should be changed to guarantee that Fijians always led Fiji, and agreed to organize protest marches through the capital, Suva, and other centres, and to submit a petition to the Governor-General Penaia Ganilau against the Bavadra government. In complicity with the Great Council of Chiefs, this group subsequently set out to manipulate and mobilize the Fijians to destabilize the Bavadra government.

After the 1987 coups, Bale went into private practice as a lawyer but following the failed Speight coup and with the election of Laisenia Qarase as Prime Minister, he once again found himself holding the A-G and Minister of Justice posts. In December 2006 he was deposed in another coup, with history repeating itself. Ironically, Filipe Bole, one of those who attended that Fijian Association meeting in 1987 against the Bavadra government is now part of another illegal regime, talking about education to the nation. There is no honour among coupists.

We wonder if the nation’s former lawmaker Bale repaid his $556,000 loan to the collapsed National Bank of Fiji.
 
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 have paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dirty plates and dirty deeds - both can be found in Fiji

By Usaia Waqatairewa, the National president of Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement

Recently we were reminiscing about a late cousin who was well known in my village for his classic one liners and outspokenness. When once asked why he never attended church when a fellow villager is appointed for Sunday preaching but would be first in church in when a Talatala is coming to preach, his come back line was 'au sega ni via kana e na veleti duka" (I do not like eating from a dirty plate). 

I then thought of Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and how he preaches one thing and does another. Take for example his back paid leave that was paid out in February 2008. I was just having another look at the G.P. Form 2 which is the Payment Voucher used in Fiji's public service for such payment and support documents that came with it and these are some of the things I found and thought might be worth sharing. 

His leave was back dated to 26 July, 1975, the day he joined Fiji's navy. That is quite a long way back. Just to put things into prospective, I asked myself what was I doing in 1975? I was in class 3  at Marist Primary with, among others, his tavale and now Fiji Naval commander Francis Kean. Franky and I would be strapping  41 olds in 2008 but were merely 8 year old kids on the year they used as a base year for Bainimarama's backdated leave pay. 

Anyway, getting back to the subject, he was back paid all that leave and this is how it reads:

His back pay was based on his Commander's basic salary of $96,276.05 and other service allowance . So the break up calculation as per the filled G.P. Form 2 reads. 

Basic Salary ($263.77 x 698 days)                        $184,118.46

Service Allowance ($5.49 x 698 days)                     3,832.03

Duty Allowance ($32.17 x 698 days)                       23,013.92

Gratuity (1 year)                                                    24,069.00

Gratuity (10 months)                                              20,057.50

This gave him a total backdated gross amount of $255,083.90
He then gets deducted PAYE of $79,076.01 and FNPF of $20,406.71 leaving him a cool $155,601.18. The $20,406.71 will be coming back to him with interest when he finally decides to retire.

Wait, there is more!!

He was back paid a tax free amount of:

Expense allowance  ($34.25 x 698 days)                $23,904.11

Ration Allowance   ($7.50 x 698 days)                       5,235.00

So Voreqe's total instant payout totalled          $184,740.29

In a letter dated the 3rd of September 2007, Aiyarse Sayed Khayum compiled a PM's package for Voreqe and submitted it to Ratu Iloilo for approval and got approved the same day. In short it looked like this: 

Annual Salary (Basic) $97,276.00

Ration Allowance $2,737.00

Extra Duty Allowance (12.6% of basic) $12,130.78

Expense Allowance $12,500.00

Gratuity (after every  12 months service, 25% of basic) $24,069.00 

TOTAL GROSS PER ANNUM $147,713.28 

He also gets 15% of this total paid by taxpayers as employer contribution to FNPF.

He gets $200 per night hotel accommodation expenses every time he sleeps in a local hotel while travelling locally to preach to in the provinces plus $45 daily chow allowance and $50 subsistence allowance. This would have been adjusted up months ago to cover for the devaluation and subsequent rise in the inflation rate.

Just to put things into prospective, in three short years between Jan 2007 and December 2009 Bainimarama would have accumulated $150,060.16 in FNPF savings.

This is based on a calculation of his back paid FNPF contribution doubled up by employer contribution equalling $48,138 plus 15% FNPF on a gross salary of $147,713 and his own contribution of $11,817 bases on employees 8% contribution.

Of this $150,060 (without FNPF compounded interest), $114,609 or 73% of it was from employer contribution. That is, you sweat and blood as taxpayers of Fiji, ladies and gentlemen.

Going back to his back pay, why is there also a gratuity back paid in February 2008 when the said letter from Khaiyum mentioned above also recommended a gratuity payment and that was dated 3rd September 2007? I would assume that everyone would be falling over themselves to back pay his 2006 and 2007 gratuity if it was approved by Ratu Iloilo in September 2007 rather than wait till February 2008, to ensure King Bainimarama is not antagonised and start firing people when he is in a tantrum.  

Has he double dipped on gratuity? By the way, the dictionary defines gratuity as a tip or gift given in return for service. It is therefore a privilege and not a right that you unconditionally deserve.

 

DO YOU THINK HE DESERVES ALL THIS????? 

I am raising this issue because for the last five or six years or so we have been bombarded with the uninvited preaching on morality, integrity and you name it from Mr Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.

However, since he grabbed power he has been weighed on the scale of corruption and integrity and unfortunately, based on the issue raised above plus many others exposed on other blogs, I believe our self appointed Master of Moral Values has been found wanting.

And given that fact, I for one would certainly not accept  him as the proverbial plate that is used to serve me my daily dose of integrity and morality. 


Pictures: Poverty growing in Fiji (top) but Bainimarama doing okay. (right)