Corruption Trial Of Former Cook Islands Minister Begins

Bribery charges against former opposition leader stem from fishery licenses

By Losirene Chand 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 5, 20126) – The Cook Islands High Court was crowded with prominent figures as the much-anticipated Teinakore Bishop case began trial yesterday.

The One Cook Islands movement leader once again entered a not guilty plea in his high-profile case before High Court Judge Justice Colin Doherty on a charge of corruption by a minister of the Crown.

The court heard that between October 14, 2011 and July 10, 2013 Bishop and his business partner Thomas Koteka received a loan from Leun Thai subsidiary Century Finance.

Of this, $250,000 was invested by Koteka so he and Bishop could buy Samade Resort in Aitutaki for $1million.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial and Bishop’s sentencing will be in the hands of Justice Doherty and 12 jurors.

The jurors were confirmed yesterday, with Justice Doherty reminding them of their duty towards the law and the country.

More than seven witnesses will be produced by the prosecution, including Clerk of Parliament John Tangi, Henry Napa and Paul Webb. Bishop’s current bail conditions state that he is not to associate with any of the Crown witnesses.

Bishop is represented by lawyer Rodney Harrison and local lawyer Brian Mason, while the prosecution is represented by Michael Thomas and Nick Williams. Bishop last appeared in April this year before Justice of Peace Bernice Manarangi.

The prosecution alleges there is a link between a loan received by Bishop from Leun Thai Subsidiary and the granting of 18 fishing licenses to Huanan Fishery, as Bishop allegedly used his “close relationship” with Leun Thai to secure the loan.

Evidence of Skype conversations between Bishop and a Leun Thai associate has been submitted.

Under the Cook Islands Crimes Act 1969, a Minister of the Crown who corruptly accepts or attempts to obtain any bribe for himself or any other person can face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Bishop arrived at court yesterday morning supported by his daughter, Tania Bishop.

Bishop was the parliamentary leader of the opposition coalition until the end of last month when he honoured a pre-arranged agreement to resign before his court case began.

His position as leader will be reassessed after the outcome of his trial is known.

Cook Islands News
Copyright © 2016 Cook Islands News. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Add new comment