10 Jul 2007

Fiji Native Lands Trust Board and its minister to be audited

10:32 am on 10 July 2007

An independent audit team reviewing indigenous Fijian institutions has recommended that the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, be investigated for condoning mismanagement by the board and the management of the Native Lands Trust Board.

The recommendation, which found Mr Qarase had condoned breaches of the Native Land Act, has been endorsed by the interim minister for Fijian affairs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, and forwarded to President Iloilo.

The review team headed by Col Apakuki Kurusiga also recommended the termination of the contracts of the suspended general manager of the NLTB, Kalivati Bakani, and its IT manager, Mojito Mua.

Ratu Epeli was earlier quoted as saying all those who were found to have abused, misused or been corrupt would be investigated and where necessary handed over to the legal authorities.

Mr Qarase was also the minister for Fijian affairs in his government and therefore had responsibility for the NLTB.

He said from his home island that it was the NLTB management's responsibility to oversee its operations.

Mr Qarase said during his term as minister for Fijian affairs he had always acted within the law and within his authority, and the allegations were unexpected and shocking.