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Businessman on bribery charge to hire overseas lawyer

Shalveen Chand
Friday, May 30, 2014

A BUSINESSMAN alleged to be involved in a multi-million dollar scam with two former workers of the then Department of National Roads told the High Court in Suva he would be getting a lawyer from abroad.

Feroz Jan Mohammed, Iliesa Turagacati and Navitalai Tamanitoakula are charged with bribery, obtaining a financial advantage and abuse of office.

In court, FICAC said the draft agreed facts would be ready by next week and these would then be given to the defence.

The court was told FICAC hoped for an early response as the number of documents had been brought down; in addition, instead of the initial 84 witnesses, only 20 were expected to take the stand.

Mr Mohammed's lawyer, Mehboob Raza, said he would need to send the agreed facts abroad as the trial lawyer would be a Queen's Counsel. However, Justice Paul Madigan said there was no need to do that as the accused was the person who needed to agree to the facts.

The alleged scam involved the siphoning of about $3million from government funds.

According to the charge, between February 27 and July 2012, Mr Mohammed, a director of TF Jan Bulldozing Company Limited, offered payments amounting to $93,000 to Mr Turagacati, who was a public servant employed as an acting project accountant in the then Department of National Roads.

It is also alleged that during that same period, Mr Mohammed and his company obtained financial advantage amounting to $3,132,773.77 by receiving money the company was not entitled to, upon submitting false invoices and circumventing the proper procedures concerning the processing of payments with the influence of Mr Turagacati.

The third accused, Mr Tamanitoakula, is charged with abuse of office.

He is alleged to have processed payments amounting to $2,468,169.86 paid to TF Jan Bulldozing Company Limited without following proper procedures.

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