Fiji’s High Court in Suva this morning heard the former director of Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL) Laisenia Qarase received a letter and a $20,000 cheque from FHL when he was the managing director at the Mavana Investments Limited.
This was after Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) overseas-based lawyer Michael Blanchflower questioned their second witness former FHL secretary and chief executive Sitiveni Weleilakeba.
Qarase is charged with six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he has a private interest.
During his questioning Weleilakeba told the court the content of the letter and cheque was correct and the cheque was written to a Dere Toganivalu who was the managing director at the Mavana Investments Limited but according to Weleilakeba Toganivalu was not the Managing Director, it was Qarase.
Blanchflower asked Weleilakeba to confirm if the document he was presented with was a photocopy of FHL’s payment records and one of the records showed that the same cheque number was enclosed with the letter that was received by Qarase.
Weleilakeba confirmed this information and told the court that this was the same $20,000 cheque given to Mavana Investments Limited.
Blanchflower then questioned Weleilakeba if the Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited that holds 400,000 class A shares received $40,000 of dividends which saw $22,000 paid to FDB and $18,000 paid directly to the plantation.
This was confirmed by Weleilakeba.
Weleilakeba told the court that after FHL became a public company it enjoyed great profit and it continued to pay dividends of Class A shares until he left the company in 2008.
The court heard from Weleilakeba that shareholders approve the final dividends given to Class A shares.
The court also heard that Qarase had signed a few cheques on behalf of FHL and only three people were allowed to sign for the dividend accounts.
Weleilakeba told the court that along with him, Qarase and FHL former chairman Lyle Cupit are the only three people who can sign for the dividend account.
The court also heard that a list of FHL documents showed dividend payments and the amount paid in which the Mavana Investments Limited and Cicia plantation were among class A shareholders.
It is alleged Qarase between 1992 to 2000 while employed as a director of Fijian Holdings Limited, Financial Advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs, in abuse of the authority of his office, did arbitrary acts.
It is alleged he applied in the name of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and a family owned company named Q-Ten Investments Limited for the issuance and allotment of Class A shares in Fijian Holdings Limited.
The trial continues.
By Mereani Gonedua