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Bakani pleads guilty

Shalveen Chand
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FORMER Native Lands Trust Board general manager Kalivati Bakani was convicted of five counts of abuse of office by the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Bakani, 63, pleaded guilty to five counts of abuse of office.

He admitted to using extinct mataqali funds and government grants to finance businessman Ballu Khan's IT company Pacific Connex through Vanua Development Corporation Limited (VDCL), a limited liability company of NLTB.

VDCL is the investment arm of NLTB.

According to the summary of facts for the first charge Bakani approved a $2million loan for Pacific Connex by VDCL on March 19, 2004.

Bakani instructed financial institutions to allow the release of the term deposits so money which belonged to extinct mataqali was provided to Pacific Connex as a loan.

Of this amount only $135,000 was repaid by Pacific Connex.

On the second count Bakani admitted he facilitated another loan to Pacific Connex for $900,000 by using extinct mataqali funds without the approval of NLTB on September 24, 2004.

Of this amount only $40,500 was repaid.

On the third count, Bakani admitted to using a $1m government grant to VDCL as security for a loan for Pacific Connex without the approval of the NLTB in March 2005.

On the fourth count, Bakani admitted receiving the government grant money back with interest from a financial institution and then used the same money as security in April 2005 so Pacific Connex could be provided with a $1m overdraft facility from ANZ.

Two years later, ANZ set off the overdraft with a VDCL term deposit leaving VDCL with $108,939.19.

On the fifth count, Bakani accepted having NLTB act as surety for a $350,000 Credit Corporation loan to Pacific Connex in July 6, 2005 without NLTB approval.

And then on September 28, 2005, he offered another loan of $1m to Pacific Connex through VDCL.

FICAC prosecution stated on each of the counts NLTB and indigenous Fijians were prejudiced.

Justice Janaka Bandara said the court would sentence Bakani after the conclusion of the trial of Keni Dakuidreketi who was also charged with five counts of abuse of office arising from dealings between VDCL and Pacific Connex.

Bakani was released on bail and told to return to court on July 11 while Mr Dakuidreketi's trial starts tomorrow.








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