Former prime minister Laisenia Qarase could have received a suspended sentence because of his age and good record. However, High Court judge Justice Priyantha Fernando said the gravity of the offence, premeditation, planning and breach of public trust were grounds for a custodial sentence.
Qarase, 71, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in the High Court in Suva yesterday for six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty.
Justice Fernando told Qarase he was the financial adviser to Fijian Affairs Board and the Great Council of Chiefs, and was appointed as a director to Fijian Holdings Limited board to represent Class B shares.
He said on behalf of Q-Ten Investments Limited, Cicia Plantation Co-operatives Ltd and Mavana Investments Ltd, he applied for Class A shares.
Justice Fernando said in doing so, Qarase failed to disclose his interest and relationship with the three companies to FHL, FAB and the GCC.
"You have breached the trust and confidence bestowed in you," he said.
"You have deprived the institutions and eligible Fijians of their entitlements.
"Your actions are not only illegal but against the moral values."
Having considered the mitigating factors, Justice Fernando said the grounds for a custodial sentence overrode that for a suspended sentence including age, previous good record, and co-operation with the authorities, among others.
"When imposing the sentence, I also take into account the absence of remorse or repentance by you."
He sentenced Qarase to 12 months imprisonment for counts one to six, and six months for counts seven to nine.
Justice Fernando ordered that the sentences run concurrently.