22 Dec 2004

First charges laid in connection with Fiji agriculture ministry scam

4:23 pm on 22 December 2004

After more than three years of investigations, Fiji police have charged the first two people in connection with the 2001 agriculture ministry scam.

Radio Legend reports that the former principal accountant in the ministry, Sullies Sorovakatini, and Suva businessman, Pita Alifereti, have been charged with conspiracy to defraud and official corruption involving 68,000 US dollars.

The Suva magistrate's court has agreed to a prosecution request to refer the case to the High Court.

The accused have been released on bail of 30,000 US dollars each to re-appear in court on December the 28th when a plea will be taken.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says more people will be charged soon.

Meanwhile, authorities have now reduced the amount of money involved in the scam from 13 million US dollars to just under 10 million.

Critics have alleged that the money was used to buy votes in the 2001 post-coup general election.