21 Aug 2004

Fiji police closing in on perpetrators of US$13m scam

8:08 am on 21 August 2004

Fiji police are reported to be closing in on cabinet ministers and public servants involved in the US$13 million US dollar agriculture ministry scam during the term of the post-coup Qarase interim administration.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes has confirmed to Radio Legend that the number of individuals involved is about 20.

He says progress has been made possible after the report of specialist detectives from New Zealand who reviewed the files of earlier Fiji police investigations.

Mr Hughes says for operational security reasons, they can't give too much information, because the people facing charges, have a right to have their name cleared by the court.

In the scam, known as the farming assistance scheme, agricultural implements, fishing boats and engines were bought at two-to-three times the normal prices from certain businesses for distribution to the rural sector.

Critics claim that the scheme was used to buy votes in the 2001 post-coup general elections.