28 Aug 2003

Fiji Auditor General wins right to examine army's regimental funds

10:24 am on 28 August 2003

The Fiji Court of Appeal has ordered the army to open up its regimental funds for audit by the Auditor General.

Radio Fiji says the dispute about the audit goes back six years to 1997 when the former military commander, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, refused to allow the then Auditor General, Michael Jacobs, access to the regimental funds for scrutiny.

Brigadier General Ganilau said at the time that auditing of the army's regimental, canteen and benevolent funds was outside the jurisdiction of the Auditor General.

But Mr Jacobs took the case to the High Court which ruled in favour of the Auditor General in January 2000, saying that the commander was a public officer and the funds he held were public funds and subject to auditing.

The military appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeal which has also ruled in favour of the Auditor General and ordered the army to allow the audit to proceed.

The Appeal Court said the constitution empowers the auditor general to examine and audit monies received or held in trust by a public officer.

It also awarded costs against the military.