Former Fiji PM Laisenia Qarase’s Trial Continues

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Charged over abuse of office as Fijian Holdings director

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 9, 2012) – Fiji’s ousted Prime Minister and former director of Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL) Laisenia Qarase will be appearing at the High Court in Suva for his third day of trial.

Qarase is charged with six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he has a private interest.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) overseas-based lawyer Michael Blanchflower is expected to call their third witness when the trial continues.

Last week FICAC’s second witness FHL former secretary and chief executive Sitiveni Weleilakeba told the court that the sale of FHL class-A shares was to reduce FHL’s independence on government funding, widen participation of Fijian community and to spread the benefit of FHL widely to the Fijian community.

The court also heard that Qarase had signed letters that was an application for FHL shares which also included payment of the shares. FICAC is expected to present 10 witnesses during the one month trial.

Qarase is represented by Defense lawyer Tupou Draunidalo and Samanunu Vaniqi.

It is alleged Qarase, between 1992 to 2000, while employed as a director of Fijian Holdings Limited, Financial Advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs, in abuse of the authority of his office, committed arbitrary acts.

It is alleged he applied in the name of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and a family owned company named Q-Ten Investments Limited for the issuance and allotment of Class A shares in Fijian Holdings Limited.

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