16 Feb 2007

Fiji wrangle over Monasavu funds

5:00 pm on 16 February 2007

A report from Fiji says moves are afoot to take over millions of dollars in funds held in trust for indigenous owners of the country's main hydro site at Monasavu.

The Suva High Court awarded a total of 32 million US dollars to the landowners in compensation last year.

But Fiji TV reports that the villagers are being used by some investors who are eager to lay their hands on part of the payout.

The report says two villagers claiming to be Monasavu landowners are heading moves to transfer the funds to a group who last year claimed they would be given six billion US dollars by a bogus overseas organisation to set up a bank for indigenous Fijians.

Fiji TV says the move is being pushed by the Viti Land and Resource Owners Association, headed by Ratu Osea Gavidi, who convinced Fiji's middle level chiefs that six billion US dollars would soon be theirs.

Ratu Osea says he expects the Monasavu landowners' money to be invested in a new company, Assemble Communications Limited, which he claims will specialise in the Internet and communications technology.