5 Oct 2006

Police witness names four ministers alleged to be part of Fiji agriculutre scam

10:30 am on 5 October 2006

A police witness in the 13-million US dollar Fiji agriculture ministry scam has told the Suva High Court that four ministers in the previous Qarase cabinet were suspects in the abuse.

The Fiji Times reports that Inspector Nasir Ali has named the four as the education minister, Ro Teimumu Kepa; the home affairs minister, Joketani Cokanasiga; the tourism minister, Konisi Yabaki; and the assistant agriculture minister, Marieta Rigamoto.

Inspector Ali said he did not get the chance to interview all the ministers and public office holders implicated because he was removed from the investigation team.

Inspector Ali said he considered Cokanasiga a suspect because of the contents of a letter he wrote to the prime minister on the 8th of August 2001.

He said all the other ministers had written letters or made verbal comments regarding the money used in the scam that was known as the farming assistance scheme.

Inspector Ali said there was a conspiracy between the former head of the agriculture minister, Peniasi Kunatuba, who is the accused, and the other people implicated.

He said in the early stages of the investigation, Kunatuba denied that it was a political scheme but later admitted it.