12 Jul 2007

Deposed Fiji PM says NLTB probe should include President

6:51 pm on 12 July 2007

Fiji's deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says if he is to be investigated for condoning abuse and mismanagement at the Native Lands Trust Board, President Iloilo should also be investigated.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend the president, by virtue of his office, chairs meetings of the NLTB board.

Mr Qarase says he, as the former minister for Fijian affairs, chaired only a few board meetings when President Iloilo was absent.

The independent team headed by Col Apakuki Kurusiga which is investigating indigenous Fijian institutions has referred alleged abuses at the NLTB to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Col Kurusiga says their report was based on the papers and evidence given by NLTB officials regarding the setting up of its business arm, Vanua Development Corporation, and Pacific Connex which was part owned by businessman Ballu Khan.

Also handed over was Mr Qarase's own statement on these issues.

Col Kurusiga says Mr Qarase cannot deny the fact that the evidence is in black and white and his team will pursue further investigations.

He says President Iloilo was not present at the NLTB board meeting which endorsed the setting up of these companies and he will not be investigated.