21 Sep 2005

Fiji agriculture ministry scam helped prominent locals

5:56 pm on 21 September 2005

The Suva High Court has been told that prominent people received assistance in the 13-million US dollar Fiji agriculture ministry scam which took place in 2001.

Radio Legend reports that the people named who did not qualify but received assistance were the Tui Namosi, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, coup convict Peceli Rinakama, police Sergeant Marika Nasegai and the Roko Tui Bua, Ratu Manasa Ralogaivau.

The names were given by the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Isireli Tagicaki.

Sergeant Tagicaki said agricultural items were also taken to the island of Rotuma during a visit by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the then assistant minister in his office, Marieta Rigamoto.

On trial is a former ministry of agriculture official, Sakiusa Bole, who is charged with five counts of fraudulent falsification of accounts amounting to 22-thousand US dollars to buy farming equipment.

The prosecution alleges that Bole made false entries to show that equipment was delivered by a company known as Repina Wholesalers on five separate occasions when it was not.

In his statement to police, Bole said Repina Wholesalers is managed by Pita Alifereti who gave the quotes for equipment ordered by the agriculture ministry.