12 Jul 2007

Former Fiji civil servant pleads guilty to agriculture scam charges

8:03 am on 12 July 2007

A former Fiji civil servant charged in connection with the 13-million US dollar agriculture ministry scam during the term of the Qarase government has pleaded guilty to official corruption and abuse of office.

The principal accounts officer in the ministry, Suliasi Sorovakatini, was charged with paying out over 600-thousand US dollars to Repina Wholesalers and corruptly receiving property and cash totaling 70-thousand dollars.

On the abuse of office charge, Sorovakatini pleaded guilty to taking 116-thousand US dollars between June and October 2001.

Sorovakatini pleaded guilty before Justice Gerard Winter in the High Court but is facing similar charges in the Suva magistrate's court involving 2-point-2 million US dollars together with former Suva mayor, Dhansukh Lal Bhika, and others.

Three other people charged with Sorovakatini in the High Court have pleaded not guilty.

The trial of businessman Pita Alifereti, former agriculture ministry employee Peli Doviyaroi Kete and senior accountant Josefa Tapele will continue today with 60 witnesses including some senior civil servants, past and present, due to be called.

Justice Winter will sentence Sorovakatini when the trial is over.