FIJI LOCALS USED AS FRONT IN FISHING SCAM, SAYS TUNILOA

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 22, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)--Most of the Fiji-based fishing companies using foreign vessels are being investigated for tax evasion. And investigations have uncovered a high number of foreign-controlled companies with local shareholders as "fronts."

Acting fisheries director Malakai Tuniloa said: "These Fijians receive a one-off payment and do not have any say in the companies' operations. They are simply paid about F$ 3,000 (US$ 1,315.95) at the outset and then the foreign owners come in and do whatever they want."

Mr. Tuniloa said appropriate Cabinet approval was given to the department on January 15 to implement plans to prevent dubious companies from operating in the country without paying fees or taxation.

"We are very grateful this has been approved by this Government. In fact, the move has been from the Prime Minister (Laisenia Qarase) himself, just simply to clean up what has happened,'' he said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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