FIJI NATADOLA RESORT DIRECTOR RESIGNS AMID PROBE

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 15) - One of the directors of Natadola Bay Resort Limited (NBRL), Louis Gerard Saliot, has resigned amidst an inquiry into the multimillion-dollar project by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF).

NBRL chairman Felix Anthony said major concerns have been raised by the probe that has to date highlighted a "lack of accountability in the project" and the delay in the project by 24 weeks.

FNPF, the major investor in the Natadola project, has allocated FJ$140 million [US$84 million] as total funding for the project.

[PIR editor’s note: The Fiji National Provident Fund has been criticized for its heavy investment in the Natadola Bay Resort project and other risky business ventures. ]

Anthony, one of the new directors of FNPF appointed by the Interim Government, said FJ$60 million [US$36 million] has been spent on the project to date.

"The FNPF Board is fully committed to ensuring that members' funds are secured and protected and to see the completion of the project," he said. "Given this commitment we will carefully scrutinize all funds that are utilized for investment purposes."

[PIR editor’s note: According to Radio New Zealand International, the FNPF has fired the managers the Natadola Bay project and the discovery that the president of the company managing the project, Gerard Saliot, had a history of criminal offences in France.]

Anthony also said project managers Asia Pacific Resort International (APRIL) and the construction managers COTEBA have been replaced, as the board was not satisfied with their performance.

He said that since they were hired in mid-2004, NBRL has paid APRIL FJ$8 million [US$4 million] in management frees to oversea the project, but have been unsatisfied with the results.

As a result APRIL and COTEBA have been replaced temporarily by HLK Jacobs and Quantity Surveyor.

"This arrangement is interim and tenders will be called and due process will be followed," Anthony said.

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