24 May 2016

17 people probed in Fiji for abuse of cyclone relief

3:24 pm on 24 May 2016

17 people are being investigated and two have been charged in Fiji with using Cyclone Winston relief funds fraudulently.

Two men, Saheem Ali and Eremase Bulivecena, allegedly used false documents to obtain a Vodafone card through a relief effort for people who need help.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it believed that more charges were likely to be laid against those who have used false documents to get hand-outs.

Under the False Information Act any person convicted could face a sentence of ten years in jail, a fine, or both.

The relief fund package, which is expected to cost the Fiji government at least US$35 million, provides for households earning under US$25,000 a year to be able to apply for pre-paid electronic cards to buy building materials from a variety of retailers.

The cards are loaded with up to US$3500, depending on the level of damage sustained.