5 Jun 2004

NZ police to help in US$13m Fiji agriculture scam

9:18 am on 5 June 2004

Fiji police will bring in specialist detectives from New Zealand to take over investigations into the agriculture ministry scam.

The US$13 million scandal took place in the term of the post-coup Qarase interim administration.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has told Fiji TV that, with complex issues involved, it's only right that specialists take over the investigation.

So far, only a middle-ranking police officer has headed the inquiry, which has failed to produce a single prosecution of any of the businessmen involved in selling farm implements to the government at inflated prices.

Only one public servant has been dismissed over the scandal and five reprimanded by the Public Service Commission.

The lawyer for the dismissed public servant, Tevita Fa, has repeatedly claimed that money from the scam was used to buy votes for the ruling SDL party in the post-coup general elections.