10 Dec 2005

Fiji PM details claims opponents benefited from sugar reform

8:17 am on 10 December 2005

Fiji's prime minister has made public what he calls his evidence of the involvement of the Labour Party senator Anand Singh and the party leader Mahendra Chaudhry in trying to get payments from the US$52 million sugar industry reform.

Laisenia Qarase says Mr Chaudhry wrote a letter to the chairman of the sugar steering committee, Charles Walker, confirming that Senator Singh and his company, United Consultancy, were representing him and the National Farmers Union.

Mr Qarase says in an email sent to the leader of the Sugar Technical Mission, Jeewan Bhagat, in December last year, Senator Singh said he was "sick and tired" of waiting for more money from an Indian Sugar company called ISGEC.

Mr Qarase says it is clear that the commercial dealings in India by Senator Singh as agent for Mr Chaudhry and the National Farmers Union were not with the government of India but with a commercial company.

The prime minister says Mr Bhagat has complained that he was getting "obnoxious" emails from Senator Singh demanding payment for services allegedly rendered and threats of legal action.

Senator Singh also sent threatening text messages.

Mr Qarase has published his full statement as a three-page newspaper advertisement today.