22 Sep 2005

Fiji court testimony tells of Tora's role in agriculture ministry scam

6:57 pm on 22 September 2005

Gross violations of financial regulations at the highest level have been revealed in the trial of a Fiji agriculture ministry official charged for his involvement in the multi-million dollar farming assistance scam.

Radio Legend says the Suva High Court has been told that the post-coup interim cabinet of 2000 never approved the plan when it was implemented that year.

A statement from the former audit manager in the Auditor General's Office read in the court showed the farming assistance scheme was implemented on the instructions of the then interim agriculture minister, Mohammed Apisai Tora.

The audit reports highlighted numerous discrepancies and noted that the farming assistance scheme was only approved by the interim cabinet in August 2001.

The audit report says the interim cabinet should have stopped the scheme when these discrepancies were pointed out.

The audit report says that the ministry of finance and the public service commission could have avoided the escalation of the financial mismanagement in early 2001 if they had cooperated and taken action promptly.

The court was also told that that over 11-million US dollars was spent in 2000 and 2001 without proper procedures being followed.