18 Dec 2003

Fiji officials accused of accepting cash in return for fishing licenses

4:52 pm on 18 December 2003

At least two top Fiji government officials are facing accusations of corruption for giving out fishing licenses in return for cash from Asian companies.

The managing director of Fiji Fish Limited, Graham Southwick, has given police statutory declarations detailing evidence from a man who says he personally handed over money to a corrupt officer.

The revelations come just as the cabinet yesterday decided to retain the number of fishing licenses in operation at 110 for next year, instead of reducing them as the fisheries minister had earlier promised.

Mr Southwick says it's no coincidence that 90 percent of these licenses involve Asian companies, which is where the payoffs come from.

"This explains why the 110 licenses have been renewed again. These officials are all involved in the issuing of those licenses. They are all involved in the planning and in the advice to cabinet with relation to the number of licenses and they continued their recommendation that these licenses be renewed because they make money out of every single one of them."

The managing director of Fiji Fish Limited, Graham Southwick