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Probe on land sales

Maciu Malo
Friday, February 08, 2013

THE Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources is investigating a case where a Nadi farmer allegedly illegally subdivided 18 acres of State land and pocketed about $0.5million from the sale of more than 50 lots.

The land lease had expired at the time the lots were offered for sale.

During a public meeting in Nadi this week, the ministry revealed that up to 100 State lease holders were involved in corrupt practices.

Director of Lands Mosese Tagicakibau said the ministry was looking into the case and the matter would be referred to police for further investigation.

He warned those breaching lease conditions that they would face the full brunt of the law.

"Subdividing and selling of State leases without the consent of the ministry is illegal and all those tenants involved in these illegal acts will be strictly dealt with," Mr Tagicakibau said.

"We will be meeting with the police with regards to this illegal operation and we will take due action against the farmer," he said.

"This is a clear breach of the lease agreements and we will also liaise with other stakeholders such as the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority to charge our tenants the necessary tax for selling the leases."

Mr Tagicakibau said the ministry had received many reports of illegal land dealings in the west.

"This is another reason we are increasing our manpower and resources in the west — to capture all illegal dealings involving the State leases," he said.

"We've noticed that most of our tenants have deserted their leases and brought in someone else to work on the land. We've also noted that some tenants have sold their lease without our consent and have migrated overseas or relocated to other parts of the country."

Ministry staff were in the west this week holding face to face meeting with landowners, tenants and members of the public.


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