#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2012-07-22

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Going backwards to go forwards

POISONED CHALICE? Yash Ghai, Taufa Vakatale and Christina Murray. pic MINFO

The final shape of the military regime's new Constitution is months away but a moment of truth already in the above picture.

The faces of the two international experts, Yash Ghai and Christina Murray, show both are well aware of the insurmountable challenges ahead of them.

Seemingly oblivious to the unwanted compromises, local appointeee Taufa Vakatale beams a 100 watt smile. 

The Commission began hearing submissions this week at the CCF Forum, but had last week already released its first public statement denouncing the regime's most recent decrees, one of which stipulated a provision for immunity.

Not surprisingly one of those quickest to speak on the controversial provision was Sitiveni Rabuka, the instigator of the first two coups, who also went on to tinker with the constitution.

Rabuka replaced the 1970 Constitution, had his finger in the 1997 one and made Fiji a republic.

According to Fiji Village, he told the CCF forum the regime's Constitution should include immunity for the events of 2006 'but going forward capital punishment to be reinstated for treason'.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FDFM: full disclosure before any immunity

2006: Criminal
Statement from the Australian based democracy movement

FDFM adopts the concerns expressed by both the Constitution Commission and SDL Party regarding the Constituent Assembly Decree, but wishes to elaborate on the issue of blanket immunity, because we believe it’s pertinent to the eradication of Fiji’s coup culture and the basis for a stable political environment.

2012: Still a criminal
The issuing of a blanket amnesty for members of the State; Military and the Police until the next Parliament convenes makes a mockery of Commodore Bainimarama’s high moral ground claiming the December 2006 coup was a ‘Clean Up Campaign’, when  the  international  Community  knew   he  committed  treason  by  unlawfully removing the elected Qarase led Government from office  and unlawfully usurping authority.

Whilst FDFM  acknowledges Chapter  XIV Immunity  Provision  was contained in

section 164 the 1990 Constitution, it was nevertheless removed altogether in the

1997 Amended Constitution, so to argue because it had been done before, it can be followed again, as proposed by Fiji’s illegal Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum; is unjustifiable and only perpetuates Fiji’s coup culture.

Investigators flush out Chaudhry's Sydney house

Bryson Street house

In their global hunt for Mahendra Pal Chaudhry’s original sources of all investment deposits into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the investigating officers were told to take note of two postal addresses, 35 Haig Street, Bexley NSW 2207, and 49 Bryson St, Toongabbie, NSW 2146.

They were particularly interested in the second address, to which Chaudhry had switched his postal address to in October 2001. It belonged to his son and now a practising Suva lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, who claimed that his father was a victim of his political foes over the tax saga raging in the country.

The investigators were alerted to the Toongabbie address in Sydney because it was that address which the Commonwealth Bank of Australia had given as Chaudhry’s postal address relating to his call management account in Sydney, Australia.
The bank statements revealed all the deposits and withdrawals from October 5, 2001 to January 1, 2004. The address read: Mr M P Chaudhry, 49 Bryson Street, Toongabbie NSW 2146.

Further documentary evidence was a statement to the same address from Perpetual Investment Management Ltd, which revealed that Chaudhry senior had, on September 17, 2002, bought 500,000.00 units of shares at $1 per unit price, and totalling $500,000.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chaudhry facing fewer charges

The High Court has quashed five of the counts of money laundering against the Fiji Labour Party leader and former prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, so he will now only face three counts of breach of the Exchange Control Act. 

Chaudhry's four counts of making false statements in his income tax returns are permanently stayed for an abuse of process arising from the same conduct being time barred under the Income Tax Act.

It appears Chaudhry fully complied with the Fiji Revenue Customs Authority's assessment in 2004 on the donated funds and paid his outstanding taxes.

Chaudhry v State [2012] FJHC 1229; HAM034.2011 (25 July 2012)


Crim. Misc. Case No: HAM034 of 2011





Date of Hearing: 12 September 2011
Date of Ruling: 25 July 2012

Counsel: Mr. P. Williams QC and Ms H. Phillips for Applicant
Mr. C. Grossman QC, Ms E. Yang, Ms N. Tikoisuva and Ms S. Naidu for State

[1] The applicant is charged with three counts of breach of the Exchange Control Act, five counts of money laundering and four counts of making false statements in his income tax returns. By way of a motion supported by an affidavit, he seeks two pre-trial orders. The first is an order for a stay of prosecution on the ground of abuse of process. The second is an order to quash the Information for not disclosing an offence.

The Charges

[2] The applicant is charged with the following offences:

Statement of Offence
FAILURE TO SURRENDER FOREIGN CURRENCY: Contrary to section 4 of the Exchange Control Act (Cap.211) and section 1 of Part II of the Fifth Schedule of the Exchange Control Act (Cap.211).
Particulars of Offence
MAHENDRA PAL CHAUDHRY s/o Ram Gopal Chaudhry, between the 1st day of November 2000 and the 23rd day of July 2010, both dates inclusive, at Suva in the Central Division, being a resident in Fiji entitled to sell foreign currency but not being an authorised dealer however being required by law to offer it for sale to an authorised dealer, retained the sum of $1.5 million Australian dollars for his own use and benefit, without the consent of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Statement of Offence
DEALING IN FOREIGN CURRENCY OTHERWISE THAN WITH AN AUTHORISED DEALER WITHOUT PERMISSION: Contrary to section 3 of the Exchange Control Act (Cap.211) and section 1 of Part II of the Fifth Schedule of the Exchange Control Act (Cap.211).
Particulars of Offence
MAHENDRA PAL CHAUDHRY s/o Ram Gopal Chaudhry, between the 1st day of November 2000 and the 23rd day of July 2010, both dates inclusive, at Suva in the Central Division, being a resident in Fiji but not being an authorised dealier, did lend Australian dollars amounting to a sum of $1.5 million to persons otherwise than an authorised dealer, namely the Financial Institutions in Australia and New Zealand as listed in the Annexure marked "A", without the permission of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Registrations pass 200,000 but will it make 600,000?

Our blogger continues tracking the registrations and says the figures look good but the regime has yet to cross the finish line with its goal of registering about 400,000 people in the next five weeks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Zealand replies to Singh

An official acknowledgement from the Office of the Ombudsmen to Rajesh Singh's complaint but no glimpse of an explanation other than a file number to say his case is being investigated.

Singh, a former SDL government minister and member of the democracy group Council for a Democractic Fiji, was visited by the SIS last Tuesday at his Mt Roskill home.

A laptop and cell phone were take amid claims by the secret police they were investigating an alleged plot to kill the illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama.

The SIS implicated the former RFMF officer, Roko Ului who fled to Tonga last year and who had recently visited Singh, and former Fiji Water Authority CEO, Anthony Fullman.

Readers will know Singh filed his complaint on July 19 asking to be told who made the complaint that led to the raid, and what is the New Zealand government's explanation for accusing him and leaving him vulnerable in Fiji and New Zealand.

He also asks (see his letter below) why he and other Fiji nationals are being singled out for expressing their political opinion about the regime.

The reply from the Office of the Ombudsmen thanks Singh for his letter and 'disclosures and complaint against New Zealand police and New Zealand SIS and says: "We will contact you in due course."

Singh has replied to the letter by asking again for more information, in particular clarification on how much contact there was between New Zealand and the regime.

Singh says there is conflicting information from both John Key and Suva saying: "... it appears the NZSIS officers conducted themselves under a veil of lies and deception or is the Prime Minister misleading the public?"

Singh also asks if Key is prepared to take responsibiity in the event that those implicated by the SIS are harmed, citing the well-deocumented  beating of Ballu Khan (accused of plotting to kill Bainimarama) at the hands of the regime.

He asks, too, if Key can assure their safety considering there is no rule of law in Fiji, if they are charged on the so-called 'credible evicence' cited by the SIS.

Meanwhile, in a statement headed New Zealand Has Lost The Plot, the Fiji Party has waded into the debate asking: "Why would the SIS deliver the government’s message to someone who they are investigating .... if indeed they have so called 'credible evidence'"? 

Supporting the theory the raid was aimed at shutting down criticism of the regime because New Zealand is shifting its feet rgarding Bainimarama, the party asks: "Are they trying to say they will consider dropping the so-called 'credible evidence' if they (Fiji nationals) stop disturbing the regime's campaign against undemocratic, flawed, illegal and tainted constitutional review process because New Zealand and Australia are now a party to this process as they depart from the Buketawa Accord?"

The Fiji First Party says New Zealand and Australia's funding and support for the elections 'to achieve an undemocratic rule of Fiji' has now been brought  into  disrepute by the regime's own  Constitutional Commission Chairperson, Yash Ghai, who has raised his concerns in a press statement.

The Fiji Party says it fully supports the call for the SIS to quickly conclude its investigation and charge the 'culprits' if it has, as it says it does, 'credible evidence' otherwise New Zealand should quickly clear the names of the accused.

Padarath accused of trying to stow away

Charge dismissed earlier this year.
Forty two year old Ben Padarath is back in custody after being found hiding inside an overseas vessel allegedly trying to stow away.

In wheelchair: pic Bula Tribune
He was found wearing a Ports Authority uniform at Queens Wharf in Luatoka and Coupfourpointfive sources say he is  currently in custody as investigations continue.

Padarath had escaped the clutches of the illegal regime in April after charges against him relating to concealing false government documents were dismissed by Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili in April.

The lucky break came after the DPP dropped the ball. His team was supposed to proceed with its case that day but asked again for the trial to be moved to a new date, which was denied by Ratuvili.

The trial date had already been moved from last year. The regime also failed to get Padarath called as a state witness in other related matters so the charge against him was dismissed and withdrawn under the criminal procedure decree section 166.

Coupfourpointfive last year broke the story about Padarath being caught up in an alleged failed plot to overthrow Frank Bainimarama after papers were found at his Suva home.

Padarath was also caught up in a deal involving Suva lawyer Renee Lal and an African migrant, Paul Freeman and was accused of trying to get Freeman put on the Immigration Watch List after a fall out.

Coupfourpointfive revealed that both Padarath and Lal were beaten by regime soldiers and that Padarath was assaulted so badly, he was forced to use a wheelchair.

Editor's Note at 2pm: FBC is now reporting that a bench warrant was issued for Ben Padarath yesterday after he failed to turn up at a court hearing. It says  Padarath's lawyer, Mere Vasiti, told the court Padarath could not make it as his father was having some medical problems. Magistrate Thushara Rajasinghe refused to accept the explanation and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kiwi PM challenged about NZ's 'junta supporting' citizens

NZ's Christopher Pryde with Khaiyum
A reality call from the Australian based democracy movement today to the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key: Fiji's government is illegal and its self-appointed leader has blood on his hands. 
"John Key needs to face up to the fact that Vorege Bainimarama is a thug who in the year 2000 ordered the unlawful deaths of four men namely CRW soldiers Jone Kamoe Davui, Iowane Wasaroma, Epineri Bainimoli and Selesitino Kalounivale, after the mutiny was put down and while they were in military custody.
"FDFM reminds Key that the current Fiji regime is an illegal one and no amount of window-dressing, such as the Constitutional Commission or General Elections in 2014, will change its legal status ... nor guarantee Fiji’s political stability."

FDFM's second statement follows more information coming to light about the SIS police visiting Fiji nationals and a so-called plot to kill Bainimarama. (see C4.5's earlier story)

One of the CRW four soldiers: pic Truth for Fiji
Former SDL politician and member of the Auckland based Council for Democracy in Fiji, Rajesh Singh, has been implicated along with former 3FIR officer, Roko Ului Mara, and former head of Fiji Water Authority, Anthony Fullman. All have rejected the accusation as unfounded.

The statement also follows a visit by New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, to Suva.

Key has downplayed the timing of the visit to discuss Pacific Island Forum business but FDFM says 'McCully’s visit to Fiji only days after news of the alleged plot is too conspicuous.'

FDFM says it wants to remind Key the coups since 1987 were not committed as a result of any shortcomings of the 1997 Constitution, 'but because of unscrupulous, power hungry, weak and corrupt political and military leaders.'

It says: "Bainimarama claimed his 2006 coup was a ‘Clean Up Campaign’ alleging endemic  corruption against Fiji’s PM Laisenia Qarase’s government, which necessitated his actions then sought to rely on the 'Doctrine of Necessity’, conjured up by his illegal Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, and others to conceal the blood on his hands.

"But Fiji’s military dictator hasn’t been able to substantiate his claim over these past 6 years and out of desperation, Khaiyum and the unscrupulous New Zealand citizen, Christopher Pryde, have conjured up allegations of ‘abuse of office’ supposedly some 19 years ago, whilst Qarase  was still managing director of the Fiji Development Bank and Advisor to the FHL, but no connection whatsoever to his Prime Ministership of Fiji, which was the basis of the 2006 coup!"

FDFM says both New Zealand and Australia 'need to maintain a consistent and principled stance against Fiji, continue with the smart sanctions, keep travel bans in place, 'to keep the junta accountable 'otherwise its inconsistent stance will cause more destabilisation and certainly not in their national interest.'

The movement again challenged New Zealand and Key 'to clarify why it is unlawful for New Zealand residents to supposedly plot the downfall of Fiji’s illegal military dictator in New Zealand, yet lawful for a New Zealand citizen (Christopher Pryde), to take up a illegal, lucrative position in Fiji and willingly execute the wishes of a military regime,  potentially offer advice against his own country of nationality and seek the demise of the unlawfully deposed elected PM of Fiji?'

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When did New Zealand become besties with Bainimarama?

Key: Questions to answer. (image:http://thespacevikingandhiskea.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/john-key-eats-babies)

The SIS raid on the Auckland home of the SDL politician, Rajesh Singh, raises the question: has New Zealand changed its stand on Fiji and did it waver under pressure from the United States?

While John Key has been giving tight lipped answers to the New Zealand media, he has said enough to reveal that as the Minister in charge of the SIS he knew about the raid and sanctioned it.

What he hasn't been asked and pinned down on is why New Zealand, which currently has sanctions against the military dictatorship of Frank Bainimarma, would take action that paints itself as a friend of Bainimarama.

Some have suggested it is the responsibility of any country to respond to a death threat if it knows about it. Yes, but this may not be the case with countries with a dictatorship and New Zealand has taken a stand against the regime until now. Would New Zealand react in the same way if there were ‘alleged threats’ against Robert Mugabe? Probably not, because it wouldn’t be in its interest to do so.  

Unsubstantiated talk of a coup was also aired and dismissed as pure speculation months ago. Is it possible Key and the SIS is using tired, old news to hide behind?

What is significant in the drama that played out in Mt Roskill, Auckland earlier this week, is the keen and rather specific interest the SIS and New Zealand police have on what is currently happening in Fiji.

It is this focus, as relayed by those at the centre of the action, that suggests New Zealand is shifting its feet because of pressure from the Americans, specifically the U.S.Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who has made it known she wants to clip China's interest in the Pacific.

Rajesh Singh is known to exaggerate but many of the things he has revealed about the SIS raid have been verified by New Zealand journalists. This verification and a lack of response from Key’s office suggests that New Zealand is bending over.  

Singh says while the SIS asked him about the supposed plot, they grilled him about his continued interest in Fiji politics, in particular why he keeps demanding the regime front up with information it promised the people but never delivered.

"I was amazed that the officer told me not to ask for 2006-2011 AG report from Fiji government, how much salary is being paid to Fiji ministers/ tenders on roads and other things."

Singh says the woman leading the interview told him New Zealand is helping fund the 2014 election and that it will be a 'democratic election'. 

He says she told him she had a message from the New Zealand government and it was to stop criticising the regime.

Why is New Zealand concerned about criticisms against the regime? And why was Singh told not to ask for the AG’s report?
Unless we’ve missed a honeymoon between John Key and Frank Bainimarama on Nukulau, where is this all coming from?

Singh says: "Why do they have to ask me my political stand? I told them I love Fiji and we had paid tax and want to know how taxpayers money has been spent. Bainimarama had promised he will give good transparent accountable government."

Singh reckons he asked them why didn't they take action and arrest Bainimarama when he was in New Zealand? Especially when the former police commissioner Andrew Hughes and the deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase had asked New Zealand for help.

In his complaint to the Ombudsman (see attached letter), he asks for an explanation for the raid saying: "That the officers told me the complainant of this investigation was the New Zealand government and as such I would like to obtain information on the sources of such propaganda which has exposed me to risk in New Zealand and Fiji. "

He also notes: "The officers were questioning me about my political beliefs ..... in doing so they breached my right to express freely without fear."

Singh accuses New Zealand of acting to 'appease the regime' saying: "I am appalled that New Zealand authorities would attempt to malign Fiji citizens who have made New Zealand their home to save us from the corrupt and brutal regime of Fiji."

He thinks 'New Zealand now wants to be friends with Fiji and is using us a scapegoat'.

Singh says the SIS told him the Fiji regime had no idea about their visit yet he has since heard Key say otherwise. (See Key statements to media at end of story)

Singh says he thinks both Fiji and New Zealand want to shut down critics and are using the so-called death threats against Bainimarama to cover up their new found friendship.

The other person visited by the SIS is Shailendra Raju (no warrant was executed as they only wanted a chat), also of the Auckland-based Council for a Democratic Fiji. 

Raju says while he was unable to help, the officers were clearly interested in 'issues of corruption, the present process and seem to be confident about the 2014 elections.'

"They asked me why we think regime is corrupt. I showed them the YP Reddy fraud files i.e letter from Police/DPP and Solicitor General then they were quiet."

Raju thinks politics is at play.

"It seems that John Key wants to change strategy and engage positively with Fiji hoping it might lead to credible elections. McCully visit to Fiji is quite frequent and it supports this viewpoint. The raid at Rajesh was tokenism at best to please Fiji."

A number of questions need to be answered:
1) Why did New Zealand take the action it did? It must've known people would ask - 'When did NZ become Bainimarama's protector?'
2) What evidence does it have apart from say angry comments on blogs and information fed from businessmen now living in New Zealand but previously aligned to the regime?
3) Will New Zealand own up to supporting a military dictator? Because that's what it looks like from here.
4) Has New Zealand accepted the regime's propaganda free elections are on the way? We are two years out from it and has it not noted the concern of even the Constitution Commission?
5) What assurance can it give Fiji nationals living in New Zealand that they can express their political opinions about the regime without being painted dissidents?
6) What happened to free speech that New Zealanders enjoy and which is enshrined in the Bill of Rights?
7) What message is it sending to Australia - the other regional power that has sanctions against the Fiji regime?

John Key on the raid:
To the New Zealand Herald:
"You can be quite sure that the SIS act within the law - they are thoughtful and careful and they only act if they believe it is in the best interests of New Zealanders."
"As the Minister of the SIS, there is nothing I have seen them undertake in my time as the minister where I've either been uncomfortable or I think they've acted unlawfully - or whether they haven't acted in a considered and appropriate manner and I fully support their actions whatever they might be."
"Every time he (Mara) comes to New Zealand we have to grant him a exemption to a ban - whether we will grant him a future exemption is a matter that we'd have to take some advice on at the time." 
He indicated the Government had already been in touch with the military regime in Fiji over the alleged assassination plot. "When the Government believes it needs to communicate with other interested parties it does so."

To Radio New Zealand after McCully got to Suva:
"He's in Fiji because he's the chair of the ministerial contact group, I think there's a ministerial contact group meeting later in the week. We continue to engage with Fiji, New Zealand's always said that we want to help that country back to the restoration of democracy." Mr Key doesn't think it's likely Mr McCully will brief Fijian authorities on the operation that occurred here this week.