22 Oct 2015

Decision on Cooks bribery charges some time away

8:59 am on 22 October 2015

Cook Islands prosecutors believe the evidence is stacked against a former cabinet minister and current leader of the One Cook Islands party, Teina Bishop, in a significant bribery case.

One Cook Islands Party leader Teina Bishop

One Cook Islands Party leader Teina Bishop Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

The allegations relate to Mr Bishop's relations with the Cook Islands company, Huanan Fishery, which is a subsidiary of the multinational Luen Thai Fishing Venture.

The prosecution alleges there is a link between Bishop receiving a loan from a Leun Thai subsidiary, Century Finance, and the granting of 18 fishing licences to Huanan Fishery.

Teina Bishop was the Minister of Marine Resources at the time of the alleged offences.

But Mr Bishop's lawyer, Rodney Harrison QC, says the MP plans to rigorously deny any allegations of bribery.

Mr Harrison argues the government had committed itself to cooperation with Leun Thai, and his client was only responsible 'for rubber stamping' fishing licences.

The police have sought the court's view on whether there is enough evidence to formally charge Mr Bishop.

Chief Justice Thomas Weston has reserved his decision.