#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2011-01-30

Friday, February 4, 2011

Source: Military were paid to beat Renee Lal

The Renee Lal story takes a turn today with a claim military were paid to beat the Suva lawyer.

Coupfourpointfive can't say where the information came from of course, but reiterate that our source has been reliable from the outset and is from within the military ranks.

We note, too, that there are aspects of this fraud that have yet to be revealed, perhaps via this blog or via the investigation the FICAC is supposed to be carrying out.

But we can today release the information that Renee Lal was beaten about her head with a full bottle of water and that her beating was apparently organised by an army officer by the name of Ben Naliva.

The officer is believed to be part of the illegal leader Frank Bainimarama's personal security detail. And it's claimed, as we said, that he was given $10,000 to ensure Lal got beaten.

The obvious question is - if this is true as we have been told, who would pay for this to be done and why? The full answers will come but to jog reader's memories: Lal is accused of fleecing a foreign investor by the name of Freeman under false pretences (and details of him are sketchy still) with the help of an accomplice, Ben Padarath. 

The kicker is that Frank's name was used by Lal and Padarath to 'oil' their scam and one of the more juicier claims was that they prised $30,000 out of the so-called investor, supposedly for Frank's Christmas expenses.

Our military sources have also now told us that Renee Lal's husband was with her when she was arrested at Nausori Airport last Friday morning, when she tried to fly out to New Zealand. Lal's husband is Amani Bale, a former lawyer for the Fiji military.

Footnote: A traumatised Lal is receiving counselling for her beating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Renee Lal kicked out of office prior to her arrest

The Suva lawyer at the centre of the scam where perpetrators used Frank Bainimarama's name to fleece a Ghanian businessman, was kicked out of her office five days before her arrest.

Renee Lal was taken into custody last Friday morning, trying to make a quick escape to New Zealand.

Just days before Lal, who is a partner at Jamandas and Associates, was locked out of the office by senior partner, Dilip Jamandas, leaving her husband (former RFMF lawyer Amani Bale) to retrieve her files.

The Renee Lal scam is one of two major frauds revealing the massive corruption and weaknesses of the regime and its appointees. 

Lal's alleged scam involves hundreds of thousands of dollars and has a touch of the bizarre about it. Bainimarama was used as bait with Lal and the former politician Ben Padarath playing up their connections with him to butter up investors, including a Ghanian by the name of Freeman.

At one stage Freeman was told the money was for Christmas expenses for Frank. On another occasion, he was told to put dark tints on his vehicle windows - the same vehicle that was taken off him in the weekends because Bainimarama supposedly wanted to use it.

Authorities were also led to believe the Ghanian had AIDS, which led to him being arrested.

The FijiVillage reported a short time ago that the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption has confirmed it has received a complaint from a foreign investor and that it's investigating.

Fiji Holdings in new hands but what guarantee of fair play?

Typical of how rushed things are on the illegal regime's watch, Fiji Holdings Ltd has been put into the hands of two new players, without an apparent investigation or time to give investors and the public confidence in the company again.

Naouzab Fareed (top right) has been named acting chief executive and Iowane Naiveli (below right) acting chair of the board.
Fareed was already on deck and Naiveli has been resurrected from the ranks of retired directors (he opted out in 2008).

The board apparently met yesterday and has moved with lightning speed to cake over the disturbing revelations of government appointees double dipping and raiding the till.

In a supposed show of transparency (too early to tell if this will work), it's been decided there'll be no more managing directors for FHL and that the role will be replaced by a chief executive.

The idea is to avoid the stuff-up that led to the sacking of managing director, Sereana Qoro, and chairman Isoa Kaloumaria. The CEO will also now not sit on the board as has been previous practice, and will only report to the board.

In most credible business circles, having a finger in both pies would never have been allowed because it's a conflict of interest, something the company and the regime have arrived at too late.

Noticeable, today, too, is the decision by the media (or is it the regime?) to finally name names.  On that subject, Aiyaz Musa, the chief finance officer who got the $150,000 golden handshake and car, has gone to ground. But that's him to the left, if you need to put a face to the name.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Qoro and Kaloumaira's sacking puts new light on Aziz's FHL resignation

The terminations of the CEO and chair of the board of Fiji Holdings Ltd begs the question - so why did Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz resign as deputy chair?

Aziz's sudden resignation was covered by the local media and Coupfourpointfive on January the 19th and the 20th.

He told media he resigned because of  "personal reasons", but the tight lipped reply created more questions than answers. Why would he give up a lucrative board position? 

Word on the ground was he'd fallen out of favour with the hierarchy because of his dodgy business dealings.

We now know there have been major irregularities at Fiji Holdings Ltd, hence the departure of the CEO, Sereana Qoro and board chairman, Isoa Kaloumaira. The board may yet go, too.

Both Qoro (left at a shareholders meeting in 2009) and Kaloumaira (right in the picture below) should face criminal charges, along with anybody else who has ripped off the company - that's standard practice in most legitimate countries.

It appears, though, the pair - and Aziz - have been allowed to 'resign', to avoid another public shaming for the regime, who appointed them in the flush of its 'clean up campaign.'

Footnote: Aziz and Qoro were appointed by the regime in June 2008 (see the FHL website for the board statement) which said in part: "We would like to reassure our shareholders and investment partners that their interests remain our paramount focus as has always been."

Heads roll at FHL: Qoro terminated

The chair of the Fiji Holdings Ltd board Isoa Kaloumaira and its managing director, Sereana Qoro, have been given the flick although local media are saying they've resigned.

It was touted yesterday in the FijiSun that a major investigation was underway on a CEO and it centred on a huge payout to one of the managers.

The FijiVillage is now reporting it has confirmed an outgoing manager received a $155,000 payout and company car. It  has not named the company or chief executive involved but Coupfourpointfive is naming them as FHL and Sereana Qoro, pictured here.
A short time ago, FijiVillage said it was discovered the CEO had authorized the payouts for the outgoing manager, even though he was not entitled to the benefits, after he'd left.

The double dipping was revealed when the same manager allowed the company's Chief Executive Officer to get two salary packages. The pair had obviously been scratching each other's backs.

FijiVillage says it was then established the CEO was also receiving the salary of a board chairman of one of the subsidiary companies.

It's believed the car and about $50,000 of the golden handshake have been returned. 

FijiVillage says just the chair and the CEO have resigned but it's believed the entire board has been asked to go as well.

The FHL irregularity is the second to be revealed this week. In the other, Coupfourpointfive exposed the shenanigans of another duo, Suva lawyer Renee Lal and former politician Ben Padarath, allegedly involving hundreds of thousands of dollars fleeced from a Ghanian businessman.

Editor's Note: Story last updated at 6.30pm

Renee Lal and Ben Padarath out of custody, for now

Two of the key players in the scam involving thousands of dollars and a Ghanian businessman have been questioned and released.

Military sources have told Coupfourpointfive the Suva lawyer, Renee Lal, and the former politician, Ben Padarath, have both been released for the time being.

Lal is accused of swindling thousands of dollars from a businessman named Freeman and Padarath, of bringing the two together.

In an interesting turn of events, the illegal leader has been brought into the story with The FijiVillage and the FijiSun both saying Frank Bainimarama's name was used in the shenanigans. 

The Sun says "one false demand on the investor was for $30,000, with the claim that it was for Commodore Bainimarama’s Christmas expenses."

It goes on to says it was revealed that one false demand on the investor was for $30,000, with the claim that it was for Commodore Bainimarama's Christmas expenses. Threats were allegedly made by the businessman to the investor.

"The businessman had threatened that money be given to him whenever he wanted it or else his uncle, who a senior military officer will deport him (the investor)," the source said. "The investor asked him once why his car window was tinted and he said it was because the vehicle was used by the Prime Minister on weekends for personal runs."

The source also revealed the alleged fraudulent dealings that took place.

Money allegedly obtained by the lawyer:
*) $200,000 was allegedly deposited to the lawyer's partner's account from the United States of America by a client-an investment company running a development project outside Suva. The money was for the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) payments and the salary of the workers but no documents/receipt have been received by the investment company to confirm the payment. The investment company will conduct their own inquiry into the matter.

*)$20,000 was allegedly obtained from the investor for his new office's furniture. Nothing has been bought to date.
*) $30,000 was also allegedly obtained for the false "PM's Christmas expenses", falsely using the Prime Minister's name.

*)The investor also gave $150,000 to the lawyer for his exploration licence.

Money allegedly obtained by the businessman:
*) $10,700 was allegedly obtained from the investor for the construction of his office after claiming that he owns a construction company.

*) He also demanded small amounts of money such as $200 every now and then with the threat of deportation if it wasn't given. Fiji SUN was told that this matter was brought to light after one of the alleged suspects told immigration officials that the investor should be deported because he was an HIV/AIDS carrier. However, upon being apprehended the investor revealed the dealings he had with the informer (the businessman) and the lawyer. The businessman reportedly introduced the investor to the lawyer.

Footnote: According to Coupfourpointfive sources, Renee Lal is getting treatment for her injuries as an outpatient.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Renee Lal 'assaulted' while in military custody

The lawyer at the centre of a scam involving thousands of dollars belonging to a Ghanian businessman is believed to have been hopsitalized after being allegedly assaulted while in military custody.

Reneel Lal, who was arrested on Friday morning trying to leave for New Zealand, is alleged to have swindled money from a businessman by the name of Freeman.

We broke the story on Friday and have now been told she was assaulted while in custody, and is in a private hospital. We can't verify this information independently, but have no reason to doubt its authenticity at this stage.

Reneel Lal is married to former Republic of Fiji Military Forces lawyer Amani Bale and was a partner in the law firm of Jamnadas & Associates is Freeman's lawyer. It's believed she and the Ghanian were brought together by former politician Ben Padarath, who is also in custody.

The FijiVillage picked up the story today but has not been able to get anyone to name names, although it spoke to the Director of Immigration, Nemani Vuniwaqa.

Ball with the IRB and new publisher lacking bounce

It's come straight from the horses mouth, or should we say the annals of  government in New Zealand - the illegal leader Frank Bainimarama will not get a visa if he tries to attend the Rugby World Cup.

That reassurance has been made by the Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, after a newspaper story over the weekend suggested New Zealand would be forced to allow Bainimarama to attend the tournament if he becomes president of the Fiji Rugby Union.

McCully told media: "New Zealand is a sovereign nation. The Government determines who is able to enter this country."

We say the real story continues to be what will happen after today's visit to Fiji of IRB officials and its chief executive, Mike Miller. The IRB has hightailed it to Fiji after the regime tried to push the current board out, threatening to withhold a $3 million cash injection if it doesn't go.

Miller is to talk with McCully on Wednesday in New Zealand according to the New Zealand Herald.

The outcome of the meeting and talks will, hopefully, kill any moves by Bainimarama to foist himself on the nation in yet another position, that of president of Fiji Rugby and to make it a family affair by installing his brother-in-law, Francis Kean, the chairman.

On other movements in Viti today, the Fiji Times has introduced its new publisher, the very grim looking Brian O'Flaherty (pictured right). O'Flaherty first served as Publisher of The Fiji Times between 1992 and 1996 and has returned to replace Dallas Swinstead who was only in the role for a blink of an eyelid.
According to the board, O'Flaherty will help take The Fiji Times to "greater heights and provide our readers continued enjoyable reading and re-enforce the adage 'Fiji without The Fiji Times is unthinkable'. "

O'Flaherty is quoted as saying he's privileged to be back at the helm. A more upbeat photo of the publisher would've served better. The poor chap looks like he's been given a death sentence.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt's uprising and Lutunasobasoba's stone box

The Bure where Lutunasobasoba's descendants used to congregate, before the plague

Opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu

In the song (vucu) about Fijian migration, the leader and their chief who led the first settlers in three canoes arrived in Fiji and then settled there.

The song further tells the story of his children who later became the chiefs of different parts of Fiji. Rokomautu the eldest was the chief of Verata, Ro Melasiga, who also settled around the region but further northward from her elder brother, in Naloto, was later taken by the Naloto people to be the paramount chief of Burebasaga. Tui Nayau moved to Batiki, Daunisai settled Kabara.

The story goes on to explain that the reason for the migration of this very powerful group of people was the big plague that enveloped the region, including Tanganyika where they were from originally.

The journey met its fair share of bad luck during the course of this journey, encountering storms. There was a mention of a mythological stone box which was lost at sea during the storm; that led Lutunasobasoba to howl in deep emotional pain: “Isa noqu kawa era sa na vakaloloma.”

We all know that the Fijian race is still there to this day, and the closure of that very important stone box - and how precious it was, has now been revealed.

What was in that stone box, that caused this great chief to be distressed to utter such a powerful statement as he did even before they reached their destination?

What was so significant about his “kawa’s” (descendant’s) survival which could have been locked or stored in a stone box?

Well, the answer has just been delivered to us through the descendants of Nai, the wife of the great chief.

In his vision as a great leader, Lutunasobasoba knew that in running from a great plague, they had little knowledge of the land they will occupy, and if his descendants were to survive, he was to prepare something for his children to use if the dreaded plague does exist in their newfound land.

The plague has ravaged our land since 1987, and it has made Lutunasobasoba’s decendants turn against each other, they have killed their own and the deep hurt, that overwhelmed Lutunasobasoba then, is now justified when he knew that his “kawas” will encounter misfortune.

But there is a good end to this story and that is that the stonebox has surfaced, and it actually has surfaced in Eygpt, Nai’s country of birth, mother of Fijians, the daughter of an Eygptian tribal chief.

There was only one thing in the stonebox. FREEDOM.

That was what set them apart from the inhabitants of the African continent; it was the only thing that Lutunasobasoba knew would isolate his people from hurt, disease, starvation and death.

When that was lost in the storm, his heart went out to his children and he wept uncontrollably fearing that without the box, they will never again be free of any misfortune.

The Eygptians are on the streets, demanding their freedom, and if it is the truth, that God does work in mysterious way, then he must be trying to tell the “kawa” of Nai and Lutunasobasoba through their Eygptian relatives, that it is time to retain what is rightfully yours.

The stone box has surfaced and it contains your FREEDOM Fiji. Take it and never again be deprived of this possession that your “VU” accidentally forfeited in stormy waters.

Frank, like Mubarak, ignores reality and selfishly hangs on to power

The embattled President Hosni Mubarak has fired his Cabinet and promised reforms - but is that enough? Mubarak's televised address just after midnight led to defending the police crackdown has been criticised by its United States ally, Barack Obama.
And protesters are not appeased: "We want Mubarak to go and instead he is digging in further ...... He thinks it is calming down the situation but he is just angering people more."

RATU NAIQAMA: Offering alternatives.

Dialogue Objectives
1.                 To open an avenue of dialogue with the interim government and to show the following:-

a.                 To impress upon the interim Prime Minister the reality of what is happening in Fiji.
b.                 To assist the interim Prime Minister with an alternative set of advice from that which he is receiving at present.
c.                  To assist the interim Prime Minister to take the necessary steps that is urgently required to cushion the impact of the difficulties that Fiji is experiencing currently and more so for the immediate future.

2.                 To impress upon the interim Prime Minister the folly of disregarding the role of the Great Council of Chiefs and its role in national affairs in times of distress:- eg.  1874, 1987, 2000 and the present.

In this regard the Vanua of Cakaudrove is requesting that the Great Council of Chiefs be convened to assist the interim government on the way forward.
3.                 The Vanua of Cakaudrove is of the considered opinion that the interim government’s fiscal options are rather narrow and this will impact severely on the capability for Fiji to continue to borrow money. 

4.                 The Reform of the Civil Service to save government some much needed revenue will on the other hand generate an increase in social problems with civil servants being made redundant in an environment of low investment and high unemployment with rising poverty at over 53%  todate.  The imposition of an increase in VAT to 15% is also coming in at a time that will only compound an already serious situation economically.

5.                 Cakaudrove acknowledges all initiatives that has been implemented by the interim government, however, given that there is no legally constituted constitution in place in Fiji and Fiji’s continued isolation from the international community, Cakaudrove is adamant   that the only way forward for Fiji is to reconvene the Great Council of Chief (Bose Levu Vakaturaga) and that the Gone Turaga Bale Na Tui Cakau stands ready to assist in this process. 

6.                 The Vanua of Cakaudrove also acknowledges the efforts of all civil servants within the province and the related developments emanating from  current government policy.
         Concerns Raised
1.                 On the dialogue proper with the interim Prime Minister the Turaga Bale the Tui Cakau with the blessings and mandate of the Vanua of Cakaudrove has come forward to lay on the table various concerns on the current state of the nation and more importantly to offer Cakaudrove’s assistance and or recommendations in the way forward for Fiji from its present position and difficulties both economically and socially.
2.                 The Vanua of Cakaudrove has maintained from the events of December 5th 2006 that the overthrow of the elected government was illegal and this stand by Cakaudrove has been vindicated in the Appeals Courts of Fiji on the 9th of April 2009 with the judgement declaring the overthrow of the Qarase government as being unlawful.

3.      The reality of the depressed economic outlook in Fiji as presented by the Vanua of Cakaudrove is based on the latest economic report on Fiji by the Asian Development Banks, Pacific Economic Monitor Report and also latest  analysis of the Fiji economy by the International Monetary Fund.
4.                 The Vanua of Cakaudrove wishes to thank the office of the Interim PM for the opportunity to meet and discuss various issues that are of real concern to Cakaudrove and the nation and to present Cakaudrove’s position.

 5.The Gone Turaga Bale the Tui Cakau and the Vanua of Cakaudrove awaits a  continuation of this dialogue with the Interim Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity.

Gone Turaga na Tui Cakau
3th January 2011

2010 COPYWRIGHT Cakaudrove Province.  Email:  Webmaster@cakaudrove.org
This is the official website of the Proud people of Cakaudrove,Fiji

More dirt on the Renee Lal and Padarath scam

More on our earlier story on the arrest of the Suva lawyer, Renee Lal and a scam involving prominent players in the military regime.

Lal is accused of swindling $300,000 from a businessman named Freeman, from Ghana -  the brother of former University of the South Pacific academic, Nii Plange, who is conducting oil and gas exploration in Bau waters.

Lal is a partner in the law firm of Jamnadas & Associates is Freeman's lawyer and the two were brought together by Ben Padarath, who is also in custody.

It has now emerged that Freeman was arrested by police on his return from overseas last week and that he was nabbed following a complaint by Padarath who told police that Freeman was HIV AIDs positive, and was spreading it.

Padarath clearly wanted Freeman arrested; Freeman, quickly spilled the beans from there.

We have also been told that Padarath's partner, Charlotte Peters - a former reporter with Daily Post and Fiji Sun and now employed at FICAC as Media Officer, has been suspended from work as well.