3 Oct 2006

Fiji scam trial told evidence thought to have been destroyed has been recovered

9:09 am on 3 October 2006

The High Court trial involving the 13-million US dollar Fiji agriculture ministry scam has been told that incriminating documents allegedly burnt in a hardware company fire were recovered at the home of its general manager.

The Daily Post reports that the multi-million dollar fire destroyed the Suva premises of Suncourt Hardware, the major supplier of equipment bought in the scam, in July 2001.

The chief investigating officer, Inspector Nasir Ali, told Justice Nazhat Shameem, that invoice books and cheque butts allegedly burnt in the fire were found at the company general manager's home the following year.

He also told the court that close to 1,000 people who were supposed to have been helped under the affirmative action scheme could not be traced as there was no evidence of goods delivered to them even though the agriculture ministry had paid for them.

In one case a cheque for 93-thousand US dollars was paid to Suncourt Hardware but there were no delivery documents to prove that the goods were actually delivered.

Inspector Ali said some people who had their applications for assistance turned down were helped with goods, while others received equipment which they did not request and yet others were supplied the same items several times.

On trial is the former head of the agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, on two charges of abuse of office.