21 Nov 2002

Fiji Labour Party names wealthy businessman as coup backer

11:39 am on 21 November 2002

The Fiji Labour Party has named multi-millionaire ethnic-Indian businessman, Hari Punja, as one of those who were behind the May 2000 coup.

Thr Fiji Times reports the allegation had been made by a Labour MP, Dr Ganesh Chand under the protection of parliamentary privilege during the debate on the 2003 budget.

Dr Chand said Mr Punja's very interesting statement in the Reserve Bank's quarterly report proved that he was behind the coup.

Reading from the report, Dr Chand quoted Mr Punja as saying that " There was even more money to be made after the coup."

Dr Chand says that is why they funded the coup - because they wanted to make more money at the expense of the poor.

Mr Hari Punja says Dr Chand had taken his remark out of context because he was referring to what his French business partner in the Blue Gas Company had said after the coup.

Mr Punja says he had wanted to withdraw from the project but his French partner said he had a lot of experience from African countries where he did business.

Mr Punja says Dr Chand's use of parliamentary privilege to slander his reputation was not right.