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Swindled thousands of Fiji citizens

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 25, 2008) - A Fiji recruiter wanted by local police for allegedly swindling thousands of Fiji citizens seeking jobs in Kuwait has been jailed in the Middle Eastern country, close associates say. And Fiji Police cannot extradite Timoci Lolohea because he is reportedly serving time in Kuwait.

Police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri said efforts to engage Interpol in this matter have been unsuccessful so far.

According to former co-worker Jerry Talemaitoga, Lolohea could be serving an extra two years in prison in Kuwait for being involved in a corruption scandal.

Lolohea was the director of Meridian Services Agency, which promised locals jobs in Middle Eastern countries and received payments in 2005.

He registered his business in Kuwait under Meridian International Recruiting Agency but that fell through after the first group of Fijians working there were deported.

Talemaitoga, a former employee of MSA, said Lolohea was implicated in a scandal by Kuwaiti authorities last year.

"All I know is that he could be in prison for another two years and this is because of his involvement in some sort of deal that had gone wrong in Kuwait."

"I know this for a fact because I was in charge of the Fiji office when Lolohea was hiding in Kuwait."

Another Fijian guard in Iraq who wished to remain anonymous said when he left Iraq recently to come through Kuwait, Lolohea was in prison.

Talemaitoga said he pulled out of MSA because he could not longer witness the suffering people in Fiji had gone through after being promised jobs in the Middle East.

Lolohea is alleged to have become an instant millionaire after collecting over FJ$150 [US$94] each from thousands of people promised both skilled and unskilled work in Kuwait.

"What he (Timoci) did was not right and I hope he is brought to justice because many people had depended on his job promises but he just took the money and disappeared."

He said before leaving MSA four months ago he compiled a report regarding the affairs of MSA and submitted it to police.

One of his recommendation was to have all former staff working for Lolohea in Fiji investigated first as they had knowledge of Lolohea’s unscrupulous dealings.

"I’m willing to testify if given the chance but the important thing is to bring Lolohea back to Fiji first."

Lawyer Akuila Naco, who represented Lolohea when complains against him were raised said he no longer represents Lolohea whom he has lost contact with for a long time.

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