No Charges Expected For ‘Illegal’ Tonga Development Loan

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Committee report alleging wrongdoing disputed by minister

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 11, 2012) – Tonga’s Minister of Finance says he is confident no one will face charges over the approval of a loan from a Chinese bank for the Nuku’alofa rebuild.

The loan of 50 million U.S. dollars from the Exim Bank of China was administered by the Nuku’alofa Development Corporation and approved by cabinet to be used after the 2006 riots.

A special parliamentary select committee has found the loan was illegal because changes to the contract were not put to the house.

But the Minister Lisiate Akolo says they are disputing parts of the report, including the claim the loan was against the law.

"There are legal differences in the interpretation of the Act, the Public Finance Management Act. We don’t think there is any problem but they think there are some problems, but we don’t think so. I don’t think so myself."

Lisiate Akolo says they have asked for the bank to forgive 60 percent of the loan and may ask for the remaining 40 percent to be forgiven later.

The Government is expected to formally accept or reject the report today.

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