27 Jun 2007

Fiji embezzler jailed for stealing thousands from government department

3:45 pm on 27 June 2007

A former Fiji public servant who misused 46-thousand US dollars of state funds from the ministry of foreign affairs, and spent it on food, clothes, socializing and entertainment, has been jailed for three years.

Merewai Bole pleaded guilty to 150 charges of forgery, altering forged documents and obtaining money with false documents over a period of 17 months from March 2005.

Magistrate Aruna Prasad said each count carried a sentence of 14 years but she reduced the term to three years taking mitigating factors into account.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Court of Appeal has reduced the prison term of an Australian national who entered Fiji in March 2005 using a false identity to run a fraudulent business.

Timothy O'Keefe had appealed his sentence of 5 years on the grounds that he was an expatriate and prison conditions in Fiji were poor.

The High Court had rejected his first appeal but the Fiji Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to three and a half years.

The Daily Post reports that O'Keefe and another accomplice were charged with one count of obtaining registration by false pretences, two counts of forgery, one count of obtaining money by false pretences and money laundering.

The business was conducted through advertisements placed in Australian newspapers and all the money received came from Australia.