14 May 2008

Qarase pleads not guilty to misusing funds while he was Minister for Fijian Affairs

8:50 am on 14 May 2008

The ousted Fiji Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has pleaded not guilty to misusing funds set aside for extinct tribes while Minister for Fijian Affairs.

Fiji Live online says Mr Qarase appeared in the Suva Magistrate Court yesteday afternoon over charges brought by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

It is alleged that Mr Qarase, while Prime Minister and chairman of the Native Land Trust Board, acted outside his powers by gazetting the NLTB Trust Fund Investment Regulation 2004.

The law, endorsed by Cabinet, enabled the NLTB to expand its investment scope.

However, FICAC alleges that Mr Qarase did not have the authority to use money from the Extinct Mataqali Funds.

Mr Qarase has been granted bail.