12 Mar 2004

Fiji Telecom chairman favours independent auditors in internal review

4:08 pm on 12 March 2004

The chairman of the board of embattled Telecom Fiji says he wants independent auditors used in an internal inquiry into claims against top executives.

But Lionel Yee says he will not agree to union demands that two top executives of the monopoly are stood down while the investigation takes place.

Telecom Fiji is locked in a row with politicians and the Fiji Post and Telecommunications Employees Association with the union threatening a strike.

At issue is secrecy surrounding future restructuring of Telecom Fiji and allegations in Parliament that top executives have not followed company tender procedures.

Mr Yee says a local Fiji report that the Telecom Fiji managing director, Winston Thompson, and its chief operating officer, Norman Nicholls, should resign if they feel they have lost the confidence of stakeholders, is incorrect.

He says the men have not been found to have acted wrongly.

Mr Yee says who conducts the inquiry is up to the board committee, but he told Radio New Zealand International that he hopes it calls in outside auditors.

"I think most likely that's what is going to happen. Question: But is it what you would like to see happen? Yes, I think....You dragged that out of me, but yes I think that would be true."

Mr Yee says the possibility of strike action is a worry, but communication is open.