#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-07-25

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fiji Times pens its own 'for sale' story

Expressions of interest for Fiji Times

Sophie Foster
Friday, July 30, 2010

ACCOUNTING firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has called for expressions of interest from parties wanting to acquire News Limited's interest in the Fiji Times.

The EOI statement issued by PWC said "interested parties must be able to provide evidence of their ability to meet the requirements of the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 and demonstrate financial capacity to make this acquisition".

All EOI must provide name and full contact details of the interested party or consortium, their brief corporate profile including details of directors and shareholders as well as their compliance with the media decree, latest audited financial statements, and acceptable bankers references.

It said after evaluation, shortlisted parties would be selected and required to enter into a Confidentiality Agreement, following which they would be issued with an Information Memorandum.

"Shortlisted parties will then be required to lodge indicative non-binding offers and following an assessment of the indicative offers, a limited number of prospective purchasers will be shortlisted and allowed time to conduct their due diligence."

It said PWC and News Ltd reserved the right to accept, reject or negotiate with any party that made a submission.
PWC partner Jenny Seeto is handling the EOI, which closes on Monday August 9.

Chaudhry to appear a second time today

Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry is expected to re-appear in the Suva High Court this afternoon.

He is also expected to enter a plea. Chaudhry is charged with 12 counts of money laundering, making false statements to Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority and evading tax.

He was bailed for a $1,000 last Friday and is represented by his son Rajendra Chaudhry.
-Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Fiji Times up for sale

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation says PricewaterhouseCoopers is calling for expressions of interest for News Limited's interest in the Fiji Times.

The move follows the implementation of the Media Decree 2010, which stipulates foreign investors can only own up to 10 per cent of any Fiji-based media organization.

News Limited of Australia owns 90% of Fiji Times shares.

PricewaterhouseCoopers says interested parties must be able to provide evidence of their ability to meet the requirements of the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 and demonstrate financial capacity to make this acquisition.

In a statement it said short listed parties would be selected after an evaluation.

Applications close on Monday 09 August.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hard questions asked about the Fiji Sun

Who are behind the dictator Frank Bainimarama and his egoist poodle Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum's coup propagandist outlet, The Fiji Sun?

A Coupfourpointfive Investigation

The illegal Attorney-General (illegal because the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled so), Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, returned to his pet project – the destruction of media freedom in Fiji – by reminding media outlets of his obnoxious Media Decree – reportedly drafted in Hong Kong and sent in a noodle lunch box to his chambers, which he is illegally occupying. 

He has reminded the media it must submit to his chambers affidavits sworn and signed by the proprietor and in the case of print media, by the proprietor or the persons intended to be the printer and the publisher of the newspaper. The affidavit must contain full disclosure of all ownership interests held by any person or in the case of a company, a list of its shareholders.

We wonder if the illegal occupant of the Attorney-General’s chambers will make the list of affidavits public. Of course, he will not. Instead, we might again find him on the front page of The Fiji Sun, sky diving as our beautiful Fiji below is burning from the oppressive boot of the dictator and the long and suppressive arm of the law in coup coup land. 

This illegal lawman has featured more times on the front page of the Sun (the smiling dictator is only just slightly ahead in number count), than Miss Hibiscus. 

Now, he is back, reminding everyone of the illegal Media Development Decree, overseen by a former victim of 1987 coups, who has parachuted into the country from Australia to ensurethe industry abide the obnoxious decree. 

Any media organization that is not registered in accordance with the decree, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both and in the case of a company to a fine not exceeding $100,000. 

Khaiyum said since “the 30 days come to an end tomorrow, all those providing media services in the country should ensure that they have followed the procedures under the decree”. 

We wonder when democracy returns to Fiji, whether he will display the same zeal, bravado and courage and hand himself to the jailors at Naboro Prison, along with the dictator, and countless others, on charges of treason and attempting to destroy the i-taukei as a race (crimes against humanity). 

Will Khaiyum respond to the call of the free people: “We gave you thirty days to surrender yourself for crimes against humanity, and now it is coming to an end, so surrender yourself at the gates of Naboro Prison”. 

The Fiji SUN: Behind the Scene Movers and Shakers
On 30 March 1999, at a duly constituted meeting of Linkage (Fiji) Ltd, the company resolved to change its name to SUN (Fiji) News Ltd. On 7 May 1999, the following were registered as directors of Linkage (Fiji) Ltd: Manoj Kumar f/n Chandar Kumar, general manager, resigned 30/3/99; Karan Prasad f/n Shiu Prasad, manager, resigned 30/3/99; Sundip Patel f/n Jayantilal Patel, company director and Jayantilal Patel f/n Chotabhai Patel, company director.

On 1 June, at an extraordinary general meeting of SUN (Fiji) News Ltd, it was resolved as follows: ‘That the share capital of the company be increased to the amount of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) by the creation of additional share capital to the amount of Nine Hundred Ninety Seven Thousand Dollars ($99,000) divided into 997,000 ordinary shares of $1 each and ranking Pari Passu (one series of equity will have the same rights and privileges as another series of equity) to the existing ordinary capital in all other respects. 

The share capital of the company “shall be $1,000,000 (One Million) Dollars divided into One Million (1,000,000) ordinary shares of $1each”. 

The allottee was named as Sunbury Ltd, P. O. Box 165, Suva, with 349,998 ordinary shares. On 11 June 2009, SUN (Fiji) News had a mortgage with the Westpac Banking Corporation of Twenty Million and Sixty Nine Thousand Dollars ($20,069,000.00). The Directors were listed as follows: Sundip Patel, Sitiveni Weleilakeba and Pravin Patel. The Secretaries were the Sri Lankan and present chairman of the FNPF, Ajith Kodagoda and Sanjaya Peiris.

The Annual Return of the SUN (Fiji) News Ltd for 2008 reveals the following past and present members: Jayanti Patel, Sundip Patel, Ba Provincial Holding Ltd (5,000 Preference shares), Fijian Holdings Ltd, 500,000 Preference Shares, C J Patel and Co ltd 2,340,88 (Preference) and 200,775 (Ordinary Shares); Vinod Patel & Co Ltd 159,110 (Preference Shares) and Sunbury Ltd. Total: 3,004,998 (Preference) and 200,777 Ordinary shares.

Fijian Holdings Ltd betrays dictator’s multi-racial claims
In recent months, the Fiji Sun editorials have unashamedly championed the dictator’s purported vision of a race free Fiji. And yet all one has to do is to examine the Fijian Holdings Ltd, which holds 500,000 Preference shares in News (Fiji) Ltd, with the dictator and his pugnacious side-kick and destroyer of the Fijian race boasting that it is 100 per cent locally owned. 

The Fiji SUN, in particular, has broken the time honoured practice in the media world to not to attack its rival, in this case, the Fiji Times. Not a day passes when the Fiji Sun does not hesitate to point out that the Fiji Times is foreign-owned.

What about the Fijian Holdings Ltd? As an institution it is grossly racist in its membership, if we are to measure it against the dictator’s yardstick. According to the FHL website, founded in 1984 as a response by the Fijian chiefs and people to accelerate Fijian participation in the economy, “Fijian Holdings today is a successful and profitable Fijian Enterprise which has become a major player in Fiji's corporate sector. Its shareholders include Provincial Councils, the Native Land Trust Board, the Fijian Affairs Board, Tikina and village groups, Fijian co-operatives, individual Fijians and family companies”.

Its investments give Fijians significant shareholding in major companies thus helping to achieve the national objective of bringing indigenous Fijians fully into the mainstream of the country's economic life. Fijian Holdings has also broadened the scope of its training programme wherein young Fijians are prepared and groomed for businesses utilising the resources of its associates and subsidiary companies.   

Investing in FHL
Who Qualifies?
“Investing in FHL, the listed company is only open to indigenous Fijians. But the Fijian Holdings Unit Trust is open to all other races including non-residents.”  

“You need to bring your I Vola ni Kawa Bula extract which can be obtained from the Native Lands Commission’s office located at the Bose Levu Vakaturaga Complex, 84 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Nasese, Suva, Fiji.” 

It was only recently that Bainimarama stressed tthe Fiji government has just one shot to ensure all the reforms are carried out to have a united Fiji with equal opportunities for all irrespective of race or religion. If so, why non-Fijians not registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula are not given ‘a shot’ to become shareholders in Fijian Holdings. 

Moreover, if everyone is now to be referred to as Fijian, why is the FHL allowed to trade exclusively for the benefit of Fijians. We notice that one of the directors of FHL is Michael Makasiale of Yatu Lau Company Ltd. Again, why Makasiale has not been ordered to stop being director of different companies; for after all the burning issue in the Media Decree is cross-media ownership.

Also, what is Mohammed Aziz doing as one of the directors of FHL, when he is also running the dictator’s army? While boasting of its 100 per cent share in Sun Fiji Ltd, FHL writes on its website:  “Sun Fiji Ltd publishes the Fiji Sun newspaper. 
In recent times the newspaper has developed a reputation for breaking news stories of national significance and has won the leading news and photographic awards in the national print category at the Fiji Media Council annual presentation.”

We presume the FHL was boasting about the Fiji Media Council Award for Outstanding Journalism to Russell Hunter and Victor Lal, the two very persons they came down ruthlessly hard on when they revealed Bainimarama’s Finance Minister Chaudhry’s $2million in the Australian bank account.

In the Shadow of an African Dictator
Also, Bainimarama claimed that he was offered 500 million Euros to have elections within months. He said he will not reveal who made the offer but he stressed that Fiji is not like a failed African state which will just take the handout and give in.

Bainimarama said some so-called international analysts have described him as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. He said this just shows that these analysts do not understand Fiji and what is happening in the country.

Both Bainimarama and his side-kick Khaiyum should be grateful (at least for the time being) that they are not running an African country, for if they were in Africa, another army officer would have stepped forward by now and put  a boot into their backsides – for trying to destroy the i-taukei and everything the race stands for.  

We hope we don’t have to wait for long for that patriotic soldier to save our beautiful Fiji.

The FHL Chairman and Directors
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Isoa Kaloumaira
Occupation:  CEO - Fijian Trust Fund Appointed: 1998 - 2006,

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Brigadier General  Aziz Mohammed,  Appointed 2008
Deputy Chairman Occupation: Chief of  Staff - RFMF
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Sereana Qoro, Appointed 2008
Occupation: Managing Director
Fijian Holdings Group of
Appointed: 2008

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Saimoni Lutu
Director ,Occupation: Businessman,  Appointed: 2008

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Iowane Naiveli
Director, Occupation: Chartered  Accountant, Appointed:2008

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Ulaiasi Baya
Director, Occupation: Consultant, Appointed: 2008

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Michael Makasiale
Director, Occupation: CEO Yatu Lau, Company Limited, Appointed: 2008

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Padam Lala
Director, Occupation: Businessman, Appointed: 2008

The shady Natadola communique

Source: Intelligentsiya
Pacific leaders who may have taken up, in good faith, Bainimarama's invitation to the suddenly downgraded MSG meeting, find themselves endorsing Fiji's illegal and treasonous military regime EVEN when their resolutions during the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting have been consistent thus far.

Oh to be a fly on the wall and watch them wilt under the unblinking stares from Australia and New Zealand whilst they're all in Vanuatu (sans Fiji) next week.

In news just to hand regarding our favourite and irrelevant regional media organisation PINA, we understand that a certain donor has yanked all funding for their meeting which they had hoped to hold at a 5-Start hotel in Vanuatu. PINA Execs are now quickly coordinating for a hugely downgraded meeting at a "smaller" hotel, with greatly reduced regional participation to boot.

Intelligentsiya will now be examing NGO's who are propping up the military regime and working to ensure that donors yank funding from unprincipled civil society bodies who think they can spend taxpayer money from functioning democracies yet prop up a military regime.

1. The Head of State of Kiribati, Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Ministers, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu met in Natadola, Fiji on 22 – 23 July 2010 to discuss issues of common interest including trade, security, sustainable development, good governance, commerce, environmental pollution, climate change and Fiji’s Strategic Framework for Change.

2. The Leaders expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the Government and people of Fiji for their warm hospitality.

The Leaders:

3. Acknowledged with appreciation the high level of representation and attendance of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) that participated in the meeting;

4. Reaffirmed the special cultural bonds and ties that the PSIDS share with each other;

5. Agreed that Fiji’s Strategic Framework for Change (SFC) is a credible home-grown process for positioning Fiji as a modern nation and to hold true democratic elections;

6.  Agreed that important lessons could be learnt and shared within the region, from Fiji’s experience and Fiji’s implementation of the Strategic Framework for Change;

7.  Recognised the need for Fiji’s continuous engagement with the region and its full participation in regional development, initiatives and aspirations;

8.    Acknowledged opportunities for partnership offered by Kiribati to develop joint ventures in fisheries processing;

9.    Acknowledged opportunities offered by Papua New Guinea in various sectors to PSIDS on bilateral basis which include mining and exploration, employment, petroleum, education and other investment opportunities that could be taken up by the Pacific Island countries through bilateral arrangements;

10.  Agreed that the opportunities available in Asia have the potential to stimulate economic growth and investment in PSIDS and recommended strengthening of economic ties with Asia;

11.  Reiterate the need for PSIDS to take a stronger and united position on issues relating to climate change and sea level rise that affect the survival of the Pacific Island Countries;

12.    Expressed concerns that funding committed at the global level for adaptation measures on climate change is yet to materialise and funding already channelled through regional institutions by our development partners are being unnecessarily delayed by complex procedures and high consultation fees;

13. Called on regional organisations and development partners to expeditiously disburse funds committed on climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives;

14.  Reaffirmed the urgent need to conserve the region’s ocean resources and supported the Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge and other conservatory measures such as the Coral Triangle Initiative, Micronesian Challenge and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area;

15.  Committed that the fisheries resources and deep sea mineral resources must be exploited on sustainable and environmentally friendly manner

16.    Agreed to consider the proposal by Fiji to conclude on a bilateral basis with PSIDS agreements on areas which include trade, regional tourism, education, shipping, aviation, immigration, fisheries, assistance in modernising laws, labour mobility, cooperation between chambers of commerce and the private sector and regional hub.

17.  Noted the outcomes of the Police Commissioners Meeting that took place on 21 July 2010 and supported the setting up of a Regional Police Academy.

18.  Acknowledged the presentation on the ‘Pacific Bridge to Noble Wealth’ project and the potential opportunities available for Pacific countries to integrate knowledge-based economies and tourism industries for sustainable development.

19.    Agreed to the concept of “Rethinking Oceania” and endorsed the efforts of the Pacific Conference of Churches to recommend a development model that moves Oceania towards inclusiveness and sufficiency, report back in two years time.

20.  Accepted the Fiji Government’s offer to organise annual meeting of Pacific Small Island Developing States to continue engaging with Fiji and review other issues they have discussed at Natadola.

Natadola, Fiji

23 July 2010

Bainimarama reads about Australia's foreign policy 'in the newspapers'

Source: The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has told an Australian media interview that he reads about Australia’s foreign policy ‘in the newspapers’.

Bainimarama was responding to questions by Australian journalist Graham Davis on why he expelled Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, Sarah Roberts.

Bainimarama says he has never met or spoke to Ms. Roberts and she never ever visited his office, but claims she was interfering in Fiji’s sovereign affairs.

Here’s how the exchange went:

Davis: Did you give Sarah Roberts any warning?
Bainimarama: Yes she was given warnings. Twice I understand.
Davis: What was said to her, do you know?
Bainimarama:I don’t know…Foreign Affairs spoke to her
Davis: You’re saying she took no notice
Bainimarama: Obviously not
Davis: Did you ever have Sarah Roberts in your office talking to you
Bainimarama: No, she has never been to my office
Davis: So you had the Australian High Commissioner here but she never spoke to you Bainimarama: She has never been to my office
Davis: Have you spoken to her
Bainimarama: No
Davis: Never?
Bainimarama: Never
Davis: So whatever you hear about Australian and NZ policy…
Bainimarama: I read in the newspapers

Bainimarama however says that he speaks regularly to the Indian High Commissioner, the Chinese ambassador, the French ambassador and all other diplomatic representatives except those from Australia and NZ.

Kiribati President congratulates Fiji on engaginging with the Pacific meet

By Ronald Deo
The Fiji Village
The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong has congratulated Fiji on hosting the first ever Enganging with the Pacific meet and stressed more such meetings need to be held.

This was the sentiment of President Tong when he met this morning with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in a bilateral meeting, saying the meeting with Pacific Leaders was held in a truly Pacific way through frank and open Talanoa sessions.

President Anote said the atmosphere and tone of the first ever Engaging with the Pacific Meeting which was held in Fiji last week, is what needs to be restored in the Pacific Islands Forum.

Commodore Bainimarama also acknowledged President Tong's presence and comments, adding that whilst his critics had their say on the meeting, the Fiji Government was open and transparent about its intention of the meeting, which is to inform the Pacific Leaders of the progresses that the country was undergoing through the implementation of the current reform programs under the Roadmap to Democracy as well as through the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.

Commodore Bainimarama thanked President Tong for his openness and frank discussions on the Fiji situation during the meeting.

This was also reflected in the overall position of the Pacific Island countries in supporting Fiji's Roadmap.

He added that comments made by President Tong was very good for Fiji as this, in fact is what the Pacific Islands is known for and that which is to support each other’s development.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Return to Sender, Address Unknown: The Famous Harbhajan Lal’s Letter Returned to Victor Lal

We may recall that Mahendra Pal Chaudhry had informed FIRCA in 2004 that the millions in his secret Australian Bank Account were sent to him to relocate with his family to Australia following the failed 2000 Speight coup. 

He supported his claim by producing a letter from one Harbhajan Lal (no relation of Victor Lal) to FIRCA.

The letter purportedly signed by Harbhajan Lal contained his address as Main Chowk, Assandh, Dist, Karnal, Haryana – 132029.

In April 2008 Victor Lal wrote to Harbhajan Lal on the same address with a list of questions but the letter was returned to Lal with a note scribbled on the back: ‘Incomplete Address’.

Coupfourpointfive wants to know from FIRCA and the illegal Attorney-General whether FIRCA’s investigating officers had made every effort to trace Harbhajan Lal and the address he gave on that letter dated 9 September 2004.
In Chaudhry’s 148 page tax file, there is no copy of Chaudhry’s letter to Harbhajan Lal.

Was the Haryana Letter a forgery?

If not, did the Three-Member Inquiry Team which cleared Chaudhry, who was then dictator’s Finance Minister, enquire into the authenticity of the letter or the identity of Harbhajan Lal.

For the letter forms the crucial component of the $2million in the Australian Bank Account.

Victor Lal had written to Harbhajan Lal in 2008 as follows:
Respected Harbhajan Saheb,
Greetings from Oxford. I am writing to ask you if you could enlighten me more on the following attached letter that you had written on behalf of Mr Mahendra Chaudhry in 2004:

 Did Mr Chaudhry tell you what he wanted the letter for, or to which person or authority he was going to send it to in Fiji etc?
 When did Mr Chaudhry write to you?

 In your letter you talk about a “Committee” – Was it the Indo-Fijian Friendship Society that Chautala Saheb had formed when Mr Chaudhry went up to Haryana in 2000?

 Why was the money transferred through the Indian Consulate-General in Sydney?
 Did the Government of India give the whole $2million to Mr Chaudhry?
I look forward to hearing from you. Signed Victor Lal, 28 April 2008.

The Indian High Commission in Fiji 

Coupfourpointfive wants to know from the dictator Bainimarama and the illegal Khaiyum why the illegal regime is demonstrating the same revulsion against the Indian Government, as it is displaying against the Australian and New Zealand governments? 

Why the Indian High Commissioner, like to Aussie and Kiwi counterparts, is not being booted out of Fiji?

Has it lodged diplomatic protest with the Indian Government, presumably not, for the dictator needs to travel to India regularly to replace his heart pacemaker!

Who is Harbhajan Lal? Khaiyum has a lot to answer. The charges against Chaudhry, which are politically motivated, is lifted out the documents as revealed by Victor Lal in the Fiji SUN which had led to the kidnap and deportation of the newspaper’s publisher and editor-in-chief Russell Hunter to Australia.

Tax officers on charges

By Shalveen Chand
The Fiji Times

Two Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority staff members and nine others have a High Court date after being charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and money laundering.

FIRCA workers Robin Shayam and Sereana Ciluvilakeba were charged by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions last week and were denied bail when they were presented along with nine others.

No pleas were taken and Magistrate Pamila Ratanayake transferred the matter to the High Court.

The court was informed by the prosecution that it was a high profile case as the investigations were continuing and the money trail was getting bigger.

It is alleged the FIRCA workers knowingly transferred money into the accounts of the people for their own gain. 

Shayam and Ciluvilakeba are alleged to have received the money back from the people into whose accounts the money was transferred. Along with the FIRCA workers, a real estate agent, his family and his neighbours have been charged.

Abdul Jamal, Prakash Narayan, Mohammed Nawaz, Razia Aziz, Naizal Raheman, Haizal Raheman, Mohammed Aziz are among the people charged for the alleged scam. Strict bail conditions were set for Shayam and Ciluvilakeba as they were released after being kept in custody over the weekend. 

The two were ordered not to enter FIRCA premises and not to interfere with ongoing investigations.

The case will be called on August 6 in the High Court.

Bainimarama: Fiji not rushing back to Pacific Forum

By Elenoa Osborne
The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Fiji will not rush to get back into the Pacific Islands Forum says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

The comment comes as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he does not believe Forum countries will change their position on Fiji’s suspension from the Forum.

Bainimarama says Fiji’s participation at the Forum can only be decided by the Forum leaders themselves but Fiji is better off without it.

“We didn’t kick ourselves out of the Forum, somebody else did and we are not going to force ourselves back into the Forum. We are comfortable where we are. What is important is that we have bilateral with the rest of the Pacific Island nations now that we are out of the Forum and we started that last week in our meeting.”

10 of the 14 Pacific Island countries that make up the Pacific Islands Forum were represented at the “Engaging with the Pacific Leader’s Meeting in Natadola last week.

The leaders all endorsed Fiji’s Roadmap to Democracy.

Mahendra Millions: unanswered questions over Haryana letter

Coupfourpointfive has decided to publish one of the series of articles that Victor Lal had published in the Fiji SUN regarding Mahendra Pal Chaudhry’s secret millions in Australian bank accounts. Here, he had challenged the findings of the Inquiry Team which had cleared Chaudhry. 
Haryana letter riddle 
Chaudhry’s tax file raise disturbing questions

The 148-page thick tax file belonging to Mahendra Chaudhry raise many disturbing questions following the 14-page findings of the three-member inquiry team that has cleared Mr Chaudhry of any tax anomalies.

In any event, the terms of reference for the “Committee” was to (a) establish whether the tax assessments by the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA) in respect of Mahendra Pal Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 were carried out in accordance with the Income Tax Act (Cap 201) and any other relevant laws of Fiji; and (b) establish whether there were any breaches of the Exchange Control Act (Cap 211) by Mr Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 in relation to the tax assessment carried out by FIRCA.

In view of the narrow limits of the terms of reference and a short time span (7 March to 10 March 2008), the findings are not surprising, for a wide-ranging inquiry would have yielded another result regarding Mr Chaudhry’s tax affairs. 

Since there was no commission of enquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act (Cap 47), the Committee had not held any public hearings, called any witnesses nor taken any written or oral submissions as to facts or law. 

The Committee was however satisfied that the files provided by FIRCA and the materials provided by the Reserve Bank of Fiji were sufficiently comprehensive and contained sufficient information for it to conduct its enquiries and reach its conclusions.
A copy of the file, however, reveal that Mr Chaudhry failed to declare interest on his investments, understated his income, owed thousands of dollars in tax before he granted a general tax amnesty to taxpayers, and had $2million salted away in his private Australian private bank account which he now, eight years later, belatedly claims was meant for him and his family. 
The mass of evidence confirms my series of tax stories, which I first began in August 2007, with minor contentions. As I explained, I had received his tax documents as far back as 2005, and had sent Mr Chaudhry a series of questions but never received any reply.
Meanwhile, Mr Chaudhry had neither told FIRCA, nor the Indo-Fijian community, or the nation, that he had received $2million from one Harbhjan Lal of Haryana in India, and that over half a million dollars of that money was secretly transferred into his bank account through the Indian Consulate-General in Sydney. 
Contrary to Mr Chaudhry’s assertion, I have never conceded that the $2million was for his resettlement in Australia. 

The unsigned letter dated 9 September 2004 by the mysterious Harbhajan Lal is highly questionable, and invites the question whether it was written ipso facto to persuade FIRCA that the $2million was for his resettlement because in his reply, Harbhajan Lal informs Mr Chaudhry as follows: “You have asked for the details of the funds,” and goes on to provide a detailed breakdown of the funds. 
It is right to ask Mr Chaudhry why, in September 2004, he was asking Harbhajan Lal, whom Mick Beddoes has described as the “Indian Santa Claus”, about the state of the funds in Haryana when from his own Australian bank account, Mr Chaudhry was acutely aware that he had already received $503,000 on 1 November 2000,  $486,890 on 22 February 2001, and $514,148.50 on 15 April 2002 from India. 
And on 23 February 2001, a day after receiving $486,890 Mr Chaudhry, on becoming an overnight millionaire ($503,000+$486,890) or someone acting on his behalf, withdrew $800,000 from his bank account. 

There is also no evidence in his Commonwealth Bank of Australia statements, which he provided to FIRCA, that it was definitely Harbhajan Lal who transferred the first two instalments, for the transaction details simply read – deposit – 2070, whereas the third instalment clearly links the money to Indian “consulate general in Sydney.

It was on 11 May 2004 that the investigating officer from FIRCA informed Mr Chaudhry, “I wish to advise you that information received through surveys taken by the Authority (FIRCA) and also from banks/financial institutions reveal that you are in receipt of income, which has either not been declared or under declared”. 

The FIRCA officer reminded him of the provisions of Section 50(5) of the Income Tax Act Cap 201, demanding that Mr Chaudhry furnish details of interest earned on all private bank accounts operated by him and his family, and among other details, to furnish a copy of the Trust Deed, for Mr Chaudhry had initially claimed that he was holding the $2million in trust for the Indo-Fijian community.

Again, it is surprising that as a former government auditor, former finance minister in the Bavadra government, and Opposition spokesman on finance in Parliament, Mr Chaudhry was unaware that he had to declare interest on investments he earned abroad. 

The inquiry team in its report stated that, “In particular, FIRCA is satisfied that the non-disclosure (of interest) resulted from inadvertence and arose out of a misunderstanding of the application of Fiji laws to interest earned outside Fiji”.

But in his 18 May 2004 letter to the investigating FIRCA officer, Mr Chaudhry, while stating that he held no trust deed, had categorically told the officer: “In so far as interest from moneys held in accounts abroad are concerned, please be advised that these have not been brought to Fiji but remain reinvested in the accounts there.” 

He does not mention that he was unaware of the application of Fiji laws to interest earned outside Fiji. There is also no evidence to suggest that Mr Chaudhry approached a tax lawyer for three years to seek clarification on the status of interest earned abroad. 

There is also no evidence that FIRCA was satisfied with the explanation about the investments, for on the margins of Mr Chaudhry’s signed letter another officer scrawled as follows: “OK!! Evidence – source of funds; when did first invest?? Details of Int[erest] earned from when first invested; copies of bank st[atement] if any and evid[ence] of any tax deducted at source.” 

Moreover, despite the team’s finding, on October 5, 2004, after a 3.30pm meeting with Mr Chaudhry’s tax agents, one FIRCA officer observed on the office memo: “More substantive evidence to support the letter.” Mr Chaudhry never provided any more substantive evidence on Harbhajan Lal, for on 10 November 2004 he paid $86,069.62 for income tax for 2000 (Receipt Number 5093831).

According to Mr Chaudhry’s tax records for the year ending 31 December 2000, he had understated income of $2,815.22. For the year ending 2001, he had understated income of $35,100.52. For the year 2002, it was $65,823.84, and for the year 2003, it was $111,8672.22.

There is also evidence that on 10 July 2007 he still owed FIRCA $57,672.09 in tax. It is legitimate, under the doctrine of public interest, to request Mr Chaudhry to declare when did he clear the balance: before, during, or after the tax amnesty that he granted to taxpayers. 

It is now for Mr Chaudhry to explain to the nation who is Harbhajan Lal? What committee in Haryana was Harbhajan Lal representing which collected the money on his behalf in 2000, and why was the third instalment transferred through the Indian Consulate-General in Sydney? 

Who transferred the first two instalments, namely 2070? Did the Government of India secretly transfer the $2million into his bank account? Will Mr Chaudhry disclose the contents of his letter he allegedly wrote to Harbhajan Lal in 2004 enquiring about the state of the funds? 

What about the other hostages and their families? Weren’t they entitled to a portion of the $2million? Didn’t his parliamentary colleagues suffer at the hands of George Speight and his thugs during the hostage crisis? Did Mr Chaudhry ever tell his parliamentary FLP colleagues and the rank and file members that after his trip to India in 2000 he had finally become a double-digit millionaire, but had $2million in Australia for him and his family’s own personal spending?

If the money was for his resettlement, why didn’t Mr Chaudhry return the $2million to the original donor or donors once he decided to run for Parliament in the 2001 and 2006 general elections in Fiji? Did he inform Harbhajan Lal or for that matter whoever gave him the money, that he (Mr Chaudhry) was keeping the money for him and his family?
What must not be lost in the propaganda war unleashed by the interim regime and Mr Chaudhry in the aftermath of the team’s findings, is that he never told any of us that he had been sitting pretty tight on a phenomenal sum of $2million which he allegedly received from his supporters in India, as the team put it, “in order to assist him and his family to relocate to Australia consequent on the circumstances surrounding his ceasing to be Prime Minister of Fiji in 2000”. 
It was only recently that I finally revealed him as being the $2million man.
He never told us that he had made late lodgements of his 2001, 2002, and 2003 tax returns, which was the subject of my first tax story on him in August 2007. Even the inquiry team has now confirmed my earlier assertions that Mr Chaudhry lodged his tax returns for the 2000 and 2001 financial years together on 30 May 2002, which was outside the 31 March due date for the lodgement of those returns. He lodged his returns for the 2002 year on 12 December 2003, which was also outside the time allowed. 
Mr Chaudhry did not declare interest on the Australian and New Zealand financial institution accounts in his return lodged with FIRCA in respect of any of the 2000 to 2003 (inclusive) years.
We are yet to hear from Mr Chaudhry why he made lodge lodgements, and why he did not disclose interest earned on his investments for the years 2001, 2002, and 2003. It would not be out of context to suggest to Mr Chaudhry that one of the primary reasons was because if he did, than he might have been forced to reveal that he had secretly received three instalments of funds running into thousands of dollars in 2000, 2001, and 2002?   
As a way of background, I emerged in 1987, along with many others, as one of Mr Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party’s most vocal of supporters abroad, and in the process, became a victim of sustained abuse and criticism from the taukei nationalists. 
When Mr Chaudhry was overthrown in the 2000 coup, and none other than Commodore Frank Bainimarama, as head of the military, had refused to accede to our unequivocal demands for Mr Chaudhry’s re-instatement as Prime Minister, we re-activated the London-based Movement for Democracy in Fiji. 
There was also a concerted attack on me by the military-installed Laisenia Qarase led interim government, which accused me of pushing the agenda of the Fiji Labour Party.
On 24 August 2000, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola accused me as follows: “Victor Lal’s articles all have a simple, indeed simplistic stance, restore Chaudhry and impose democracy as defined by Lal and his friends. What he is advocating is an Indian supremacist doctrine, a new version of Hitlerian herrenvolk for Fiji. The racism lies in his desires, not those of us Fijians. His obsession to control Fiji, blinds him to his own ambitions.”
We intensified our fight for Mr Chaudhry’s political rights when Commodore Frank Bainimarama claimed in his February 2001 affidavit before the Fiji Court of Appeal that he had abrogated the 1997 Constitution because he was satisfied that people engaged in the events of May 19 were of the perception that the document had watered down the interests of indigenous Fijians. 
“Whether or not those perceptions accorded with reality was not my principal consideration. The perceptions were genuinely held by largely unsophisticated Fijians not equipped to adequately comprehend the niceties and technicalities of the Constitution.”
The London-based Movement for Democracy had also hosted Mr Chaudhry after the hostage crisis. It is, therefore, in the context of my long fight for Mr Chaudhry’s political rights that I would invite my critics, especially Mr Chaudhry, to understand my shock, horror and disappointment when I discovered that the “the political saint, former prime minister, and leader of a major political party” had secretly received $2million in his Australian bank account, while we had been laboriously soldiering on for his rights, and that of the Indo-Fijian community.

I, therefore, totally reject Mr Chaudhry’s allegations against me, where he claimed as follows: “I have always maintained that the initial Victor Lal articles (published in the Fiji Sun) were motivated by spite, malice and outsized ego. 

The articles were the product of a conspiracy hatched between Lal and certain media people here, including the departed publisher of the Fiji Sun, to not only defame me and have me removed from office but also to divide and weaken the interim Government”.

A close reading of the team’s background facts relating to Mr Chaudhry’s tax details reveal that they based their facts from the same tax file from which I wrote the story about his $2million, except with different conclusions.
However, Mr Chaudhry must tell us about the source of Haryana funds. 

Who is the mysterious Harbhajan Lal? What committee he belonged to in Haryana? Is he the one who transferred the first two instalments, which saw Mr Chaudhry become an overnight millionaire? Was the money for him or the Indo-Fijian community? And why no other colleagues of his who were held hostage with him were entitled to a share of the $2million? Why only him and his family?

There are still many unanswered questions on the Haryana front. And only Mr Chaudhry has the answers.

Read the dubious letter from Harbjahan Lal in Haryana

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Khaiyum’s aunty writes out dictator Bainimarama and his Cabinet Ministers’ pay packets

Coupfourpointfive has learnt that the illegal Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum’s aunty, the accountant Dr Nur Bano Ali’s BDO AliZ office in Suva, prepares the illegal dictator, her nephew and the illegal Cabinet Ministers’ salaries, paid by the taxpayers who have no voice in the illegal government, and how much they are paying themselves.

Normally, the Cabinet Ministers’ wages come from the Ministry of Finance's budget but this is no longer the practice following the 2006 coup which ousted the SDL-FLP Multi-Party government.  

In our earlier posting, we may recall that Khaiyum, in March 2008, had blasted the National Federation Party general secretary Pramod Rae for suggesting that  Ali had allegedly influenced the appointment of a member of the Inquiry Team to look into the tax affairs of the then interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, now facing tax related charges. 

Ali, who is the managing partner of BDO AliZ, had said in 2008 that they had no prior knowledge of the appointment of BDO Kendalls partner, Russell Postle, as part of the Inquiry Team.
“In any event, the appointment of a BDO Kendall partner has nothing to do with our firm here in Fiji as we remain professionally independent of each other,” said Ali. BDO AliZ is a member firm of BDO international here in Fiji, just as BDO Kendalls is in Australia. 

“BDO Kendalls (Brisbane) is a separate and distinct entity from BDO AliZ (Fiji) and our firm has had no contact with BDO Kendalls regarding its appointment to the Investigative Team on the Interim Minister of Finance’s tax affairs,” Ali had said in her statement. Ali said that the fact that she is related to the Sayed-Khaiyum, is of no consequence at all with respect to the business and/or strategic decisions taken by BDO AliZ.

Was the contract advertised? How much is BDOAliZ being paid to write out the pay packets? Or is it the case, as one commentator calling himself Kaicolo wrote on a Chaudhry related story on C4/5: “Oh Mahen, Mahen you forgot to read history .. as in the infamous words of a Brazilian dictator who is long consigned to the dust heap of Latin America coups,"For my corrupt friends anything.. for my enemies the 'Law'.”

 Ali could not be reached for comments about our sources allegation.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Double Speak: Khaiyum now says RBF complained to police about Chaudhry

Double Speak: Khaiyum now says RBF complained to police about Chaudhry

Speaking at a press conference after charges were laid against Chaudhry, Attorney-General Sayed-Khaiyum said  investigation against Chaudhry is different from the inquiry that was held by government in 2008 as police investigated this matter after a complaint by the Reserve Bank of Fiji. 

Here is what he had said in a press statement in March 2008:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for being here so early.

As you are aware following much speculation in the media about allegations against the Finance Minister, Mr. Chaudhry, the Prime Minister took steps to clear the air on this issue once and for all.

Despite the clearance last year by FIRCA in a report to the Prime Minister, allegations by the media and certain, usual individuals against the Finance Minister and the Government continued.

So in the interest of transparency, good governance and to dispel any untruths the Prime Minister on his own initiative identified and set up a three member independent team  to carry out an inquiry to yet again scrutinize Mr. Chaudhry’s tax details.

The team as you are also aware started its work on Friday morning.

The terms of reference for the team were:

1.    To establish whether the tax assessment by FIRCA in respect of Mr. Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 was carried out in accordance with the Income Tax Act and any other relevant tax laws of Fiji; and,

2.    To establish whether there were any breaches of the Exchange Control Act by Mr. Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 in relation to the tax assessment carried out by FIRCA.

The team was headed by Mr. Bruce Cowley. Mr. Cowley is a partner in the law firm of Minter Ellison in Brisbane Australia. He specializes in corporate law and governance. He is familiar with the laws in Fiji as he has carried out a number of assignments in Fiji since the SVT Government days. He is also a member of the International Bar Association.

The second member of the team was Mr. Russell Postle. Mr. Postle is a partner in the accounting firm of BDO Kendalls in Brisbane Australia. He is a tax specialist and is a member of the Forensic Accountants Special Group of the Institute of Accountants in Australia.

The third and final member of the team was Ms Taufa Vakatale. Ms Vakatale is an educationist, a former senior civil servant, a politician and was our first female Deputy Prime Minister. She is currently a member of the public accounts committee and a respected member of our community.

The team completed its assignment yesterday afternoon and handed the report to the Prime Minister late yesterday afternoon.

As the Prime Minister stated the independent inquiry team’s report would be made public in the interest of transparency, accountability and good governance.

This is what we are doing this morning.

The Prime Minister could have simply given you copies of the executive summary but he has decided to make available the entire report.

The executive summary addresses the many allegations that have been raised in the media.

The independent inquiry team has concluded that:

·        ‘..the tax assessments by FIRCA in respect of Mr. Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 were carried out in accordance with the Tax Act and other relevant laws of Fiji; and,

·        The committee has not identified any breaches of the Exchange Control Act by Mr. Chaudhry between 2000-2006.

Let the Government make this very clear, this level of scrutiny and the fact that the findings into the confidential tax details of a Government member or any citizen of our country has been made public is unprecedented.

Yet, no previous Government, no previous Prime Minister has had the courage to do what this Government, what Prime Minister Bainimarama has done.

Yet, despite this initiative some people are still attempting to create doubts in the minds of the public about this Government’s genuine intentions to be totally fair, impartial and transparent.

The usual suspects were calling for investigations in Mr. Chaudhry’s tax details.  Now that we have done this, the same people are making allegations about the inquiry, its scope and the respected and professional members of the team.

It is quite apparent from the utterances of those such as Qarase, Kenneth Zinck, Mick Beddoes and Pramod Rae and of course some from the media organizations that, despite this genuine initiative by the Prime Minister, they will do everything and grasp at anything to create doubts about the inquiry.

Last night on television a very undignified and disrespectful Pramod Rae took shots at every member of the team, rather embarrassingly grasping at straws, alleging collusion on the part of Ms. Taufa Vakatale who is a highly respected and dignified member of our community.  He did not demonstrate any decorum or finesse.

He also tried to create doubts in the publics mind by questioning Mr. Cowley’s credibility because he works for Minter Ellison in Brisbane, Australia.  His feeble reasoning was that I worked for that law firm as well….yes I did work for the Minter Ellison Sydney office some ten years ago ….I did not even know Mr. Cowley then.

In fact if we were to adopt for a moment Rae’s logic then we would say that because Justice Gwen Philips worked for the law firm of Munro Leys she will when lawyers from that firm appear before her, treat them favorably; we would say that when  lawyers from DPP appear before Justice Nazhat Shameem they will have it easy because Justice Shameem worked in that office; we would say that some activists are only critical of the Government because their spouses, or friends have been charged by FICAC; and; we would say that FDB staff and operations would not have been subject to scrutiny by the Qarase Government simply because he was the former CEO of FDB.

Pramod Rae also tries in vain to draw a relation between Mr. Postle who is a partner in BDO Kendall Brisbane Australia and my aunty Dr. Nur Bano Ali who runs a BDO franchise in Fiji. Anyone who knows about such international franchised accounting firms would know that these firms operate independently and professionally.  Everyone knows that Dr. Ali was a member of Qarase’s Think Tank.  She was on numerous boards appointed by Qarase’s Government.  Indeed she is a close friend of Qarase.

It is evident that the likes of Mick Beddoes and Pramod Rae have not had much exposure to the commercial world. They obviously have no grasp of how real professionals operate.  That is most unfortunate in particular if they profess to be leaders in a modern nation state.

They like most critics cannot focus on issues.  They, as have most sections of the media engaged in the personalization of issues and matters.  In Fiji now, personal attacks and personalization of matters have become the norm.  They have become the norm because of the lack of credibility of the critics.

The likes of Pramod Rae, Mick Beddoes and Pecel Kinivuwai  will always try these little tricks, will try to rubbish and belittle all genuine attempts by this Government to bring about more transparency.

If I were to follow Pramod Rae’s warped line of thinking then I wouldn’t entertain any queries from Fiji TV because the news director there is the partner of Kamal Iyer who was or is employed by the NFP office.  In fact they both live adjacent to the NFP office in Suva where NFP members gather regularly for their grog sessions.

Should this fact cast any doubts in the minds of the public about Fiji TV news….I don’t know…the public is there to judge the frequency and slant of NFP news for themselves on Fiji TV.

On the other hand we have Qarase calling for the Finance Minister’s resignation pending the inquiry when he himself did not remove members of his party who were charged for serious offences against the State.  He did not remove persons from office who were instrumental in undermining the Constitution through the Reconciliation Bill.  He appointed persons to ministerial positions who were debarred from practicing as lawyers and/or who had questions of credibility and criminality hanging over them.

These are the sorts of double standards that do not bring any credibility to the utterances of these persons.

Unfortunately the media no longer bothers to analyze such matters – no comparison between then and now.  They only provide reactive, sensationalist and soap opera based stories.

As far as the Prime Minister is concerned this matter has now ended.

The Government undertook to facilitate an independent inquiry and it has done exactly that and the report is available to all.

The Prime Minister has considered the report and is satisfied once again that there were no breaches of laws.  The Finance Minister who is on leave will be back at work next Monday.

Should you have any further queries regarding the Finance Minister’s private finances then these questions should be directed to him.

The Government’s concern was whether any taxation laws had been broken…it hasn’t been.

Anything prior to the taxation matter is a concern for Mr. Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party to explain.

This Government has played its part.  The matter is over as far as we are concerned…and in the process it’s become quite obvious that some people didn’t quite want the truth they wanted speculation over an alleged scandal which they could prolong in the media to feed their political expediency.

They do not want an independent report, they do not want facts, they want a report that will say what they want to hear.  They had pre-determined the matter long ago.  They are opportunists.

We will not stoop to that level….we will provide answers for the people of Fiji…but with dignity and transparency.