15 Nov 2006

Fiji auditor-general's report alleges high level corruption

9:45 am on 15 November 2006

The Fiji auditor general's report for last year has revealed more abuse of public funds and aid money, and bribery at the highest levels.

It shows that part of the aid money given by New Zealand after Cyclone Kina in 2003 to assist schools was diverted to buy a laptop computer and printer for the education minister, and other computer equipment for use by staff within the ministry.

The auditor general notes that because these funds were diverted the schools that should have been helped were deprived.

The report also reveals that senior health officials, including the former assistant minister for health Tomasi Sauqaqa, received substantial bribes from students who had applied for places at the Fiji School of Nursing.

In all some 60 prospective nursing students paid amounts ranging from 300 to 1,800 US dollars to the assistant minister.

The auditor general says it would appear that such breaches had been practised undetected in the past.

In the Department of Energy, the auditor general says a senior officer, Peceli Nakalevu, gave a rural electrification contract worth 2-million US dollars to a company belonging to a relative without declaring his interest.

Even the tender documents were amended in the best interests of the company, Powerlite Generators Limited.