17 Sep 2003

Fiji Methodist Church angry over leaking of audit

10:43 am on 17 September 2003

Fiji's Methodist Church has reacted angrily at the publication of an audit report which has exposed discrepancies and possible financial abuse by senior executives.

The Fiji Times reports that the church's general secretary, the Reverend Jione Lagi, has described the story on its accounts as defamatory and demanded to know who provided the confidential report.

Another senior executive is quoted as saying there was no need to highlight the discrepancies for other religions and Christian denominations which did not contribute to the church.

But a former church president, the Reverend Josateki Koroi, says corruption has been rife in the church since he was deposed in 1989 and leadership standards have deteriorated.

The Reverend Koroi says poor Fijian church members are asked for contributions through their community, an obligation which no indigenous person can walk away from.

The Fijian Political Party, the SVT, has called for a public inquiry into the affairs of the church.

And the Fiji Democratic Party leader, Filipe Bole, has welcomed the publication of the audit report, saying the church should be directed to explain the discrepancies.