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Judge overturns Prime Fiji acquittal

 

Nov 24, 2021 06:47:47 PM

Judge overturns Prime Fiji acquittal The High Court in Suva has overturned the judgement of the Magistrate's Court acquitting Prime Fiji Limited against corruption related charged brought against the company.

Prime Fiji Limited was charged by FICAC in 2016 with one count of forgery and one count of using a forged document.

It was alleged that the company had submitted a falsified Performance Security of Westpac Banking Corporation amounting to FJD $351,865.00 for the street light renewals with the intent to dishonestly induce Fiji Roads Authority in their capacity as
public officials to accept it as genuine and to dishonestly influence the exercise of their functions.

FICAC filed an appeal against the judgement delivered in the Magistrate’s Court on 20 February 2020 acquitting Prime Fiji Limited of both counts.

In his judgement today, Judge Rangajeeva Wimalasena stated that he is of the opinion that the learned Magistrate erred when she decided that actual acceptance of the false document was necessary for the second count to be proven.

"I have considered whether there is evidence adduced to prove the above discussed fault elements of the offence."

"There is ample evidence to show that Shane Halliday instructed his staff to forward the false document knowing very well that no such bank guarantee was provided by the bank to fulfil the pre-contract requirements of the Fiji Roads Authority."

"Undoubtedly the evidence suggests that the only intention of the Respondent company was for the Fiji Roads Authority officials to accept the said document as genuine and to influence the exercise of a public duty or function if the false document was so accepted."

"I am satisfied that the evidence adduced in this case proves the two fault elements in limb (a) and (b) of Section 157(1) beyond
reasonable doubt."

"For the foregoing reasons I am of the view that the findings of the learned Magistrate in respect of the fault elements are misconceived. The appeal is allowed."

"I decide to quash the order of the learned Magistrate and set aside the acquittal in respect of the two counts."

"Accordingly, the Respondent is found guilty for both counts and I enter convictions in respect of the first count and the second count."

Prime Fiji Limited has been convicted of one count of forgery and one count of using a forged document under the Crimes Act and awaits sentencing in the Magistrate’s Court.

By Nacanieli Tuilevuka

FijiLive published an article with the heading “Judge over turns Fiji Pine Ltd acquittal case” on 24 November 2021 where it said that Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption has filed an appeal in the case against Fiji Pine Limited and that Fiji Pine Limited had been charged by Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption with a count of forgery and using a forged document. In fact it was Fiji Prime Limited which has been charged. The article contained a typographical error whereby it stated that Fiji Pine Limited had been charged when it was Fiji Prime Limited which was charged. As soon as the error was identified the article was immediately removed. We apologise to Fiji Pine Limited for any offence we have caused as a result of the inadvertence. 

 

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