SUVA, Fiji (RNZI, Jan. 21) - A Fiji newspaper reports that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified bribery and corruption at the highest level as factors in George Speight’s involvement in the May 2000 coup.

According to the Fiji Sun, the FBI report documents how funds were transferred to Speight’s local and offshore accounts by mahogany bidders, Marshall Pettit of Timber Resources and Ron Parker of Fahnestock.

The report also says bribery led Speight to sell confidential Fiji government documents. It also led to Speight’s involvement with the SVT government to safeguard the financial interests of its key members who were illegally skimming funds from the state’s pine and mahogany plantations.

The FBI report says "at a minimum, Pettit and Fahnestock were in violation of the American Corrupt Practices Act of 1977."

The Rabuka government appointed Speight as chairman of the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.

The FBI report says Speight was conducting negotiations with the two U.S. companies in violation of the tender rules established by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

He was sacked by the agriculture minister in the new Labor coalition government, Poseci Bune, and led the coup some months later.

January 21, 2003

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International. 

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