TONGA POLICE MINISTER DENIES SHADY SQUASH DEAL

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Maganti Tonga, Mar. 31) – The Tongan Minister of Police, and Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Clive Edwards, vehemently denied any involvement in a squash growing deal that went bad, during claims for damages heard in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court this week.

Edwards was named as a squash grower who was involved with the defendants, in an amended Statement of Claim, brought by plaintiffs, South Pacific Produce Ltd., a New Zealand Company, and Henry Tahau, a New Zealand citizen residing in Kolomotu'a, Tonga.

The Plaintiffs are seeking damages of $148,507 from the defendants Stephen Edwards and his company Procorp Company Ltd. of Tonga, and also trading as International Produce Corporation.

Clive Edwards told Justice Ford that he had not made any arrangements to grow squash with Procorp Company Ltd, a company that is owned by his brother Stephen Edwards, nor with the plaintiffs, Henry Tahau.

"I had no discussion, no meeting and no knowledge of any arrangements with Henry Tahau," Clive Edwards told the court.

Tahau claimed that during January 2000 he met the defendant, Stephen Edwards, in Auckland and agreed to grow squash in Tonga with Tahau to grow 100 acres, Stephen Edwards 130 acres and Clive Edwards 120 acres.

Henry also claimed that each of the three parties would bear its own expenses for seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals and for plowing, planting, maintaining, harvesting and the delivery of squash to Stephen Edward's packinghouse.

Tahau claimed that between mid-June 2000 and late October 2000 the defendant asked him for assistance to finance the growing of his 130 acres, but he promised to repay with the proceeds from his squash harvest and also with seeds, fertilizer and chemicals.

Tahau stated that he gave Stephen $39,344 and received from him seeds, fertilizers and chemicals valued at $20,737.

Tahau claimed that he harvested 261.5 tons of squash during October and November, and delivered them to the defendant's packing shed. He claimed that between October and January 2001 they paid him only $25,000 for his 261.5 tons of squash.

He claims that the defendants and Clive Edwards together supplied 390 tons and that the defendants exported a total of 1,245.5 tons of squash in the year 2000 squash season, and that the defendants failed to provide full and proper accounting of all proceeds received.

The hearing was postponed until Friday April 2.

The Counsel for the plaintiffs was Laki Niu, and for the defendant was Mana Kaufusi.

April 1, 2004

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

 

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