22 Dec 2003

Fiji's fisheries minister reports bribery allegation to police

4:27 pm on 22 December 2003

Fiji's Fisheries Minister, Konisi Yabaki, has lodged a complaint with police over allegations that he accepted bribes in return for fishing licenses.

Mr Yabaki says he categorically denies claims that he was paid large sums of money by Asian fishing boats for the licenses.

And, he says he won't step down, as has been reported by local media, because the allegations are untrue.

Mr Yabaki says he has gone to the police commissioner over the issue.

"To investigate into the false, which I consider false statutory declaration. There was a statutory declaration that I received money from some fishing companies. That is totally untrue and I categorically deny that and so I am asking the police commissioner to investigate those."

Mr Yabaki says he believes the declaration, which was filed by the managing director of the Fiji Fish Marketing company, Graham Southwick, is motivated to protect his fishing interests.

Cabinet recently decided to maintain the number of licenses at 110 which Mr Southwick says is too many.