22 Oct 2015

New valuations dent Fiji AG's asset declaration

4:57 pm on 22 October 2015

Land value figures support opposition claims that Fiji's Attorney-General made a false statement regarding his personal assets.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji's Attorney-General

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji's Attorney-General Photo: RNZ / Republika

The opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum grossly reduced the real value of a property in a signed statutory declaration earlier this year.

The political parties decree says every election candidate must declare all their assets prior to the election.

Part of Mr Sayed Khaiyum's declaration was a plot of land in the Wailoaloa district, close to Nadi International Airport.

Ro Teimumu says documents show it was sold in 2006 for $100,000 Fiji dollars, yet the value in the Attorney General's declaration is $80,000.

An independent valuer told Radio New Zealand International that based on properties nearby of a similar size that it would have a land value between $250-$300,000 dollars - almost $200,000 more than what was declared.

Under the decree, individuals who make false declarations are liable to fines of $50,000 or up to 10 years in jail, or both.

The Attorney General has not responded to requests for comment.

Ro Teimumu says she received confirmation from police that the matter will be looked into, and says she has a copy of a letter of the same nature from the Supervisor of Elections to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Fiji media silence

The acting editor of Republika magazine in Fiji, Vosita Kotoiwasawasa, says there is still fear about breaking controversial stories that focus on people in power.

The opposition has filed an official complaint against Mr Sayed Khaiyum and issued a media release about it last week.

Ms Kotoiwasawasa says most media outlets are too afraid to run the story.

"There is fear of going ahead with the story itself, because then the managers might get penalised. This is still testing waters for the media in Fiji, for us to know how we can really do a story as such, like we are talking about now."

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