15 Nov 2006

Guilty verdict in Fiji agri scam trial

10:29 am on 15 November 2006

The former head of Fiji's agriculture ministry has been found guilty on two counts of abuse of office in relation to a 13-million US dollar scam in 2000 and 2001.

All five assessors in Peniasi Kunatuba's trial delivered a unanimous guilty verdict just minutes after Justice Nazhat Shameem summed up the case for them.

Justice Shameem will sentence Kunatuba today for an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 6 years in jail.

On the first charge, Kunatuba was found guilty of abusing his office by dishonestly implementing an Affirmative Action Farming Assistance Scheme without authority for his personal gain.

On the second charge he was found guilty of breaching rules and procedures on the spending of public funds for his personal use.

The assessors were asked to look at Kunatuba's bank accounts, deposits and other documents tendered as evidence in court, including explanations for each transaction made, to determine whether he committed the offence for his own personal use.