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Convicted of abuse of office

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, August 07, 2014

BUSINESSMAN Keni Dakuidreketi was convicted of five counts of abuse of office for the purpose of gain by the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Justice Janaka Bandara overturned the unanimous not guilty opinion of the assessors, on the same counts, given last week.

The assessors had found him guilty on five counts of the alternate charge of abuse of office only.

Charges brought against Dakuidreketi were for facilitating money for Pacific Connex through the then-Native Land Trust Board's investment arm, Vanua Development Corporation Limited.

According to the order of events, VDCL was formed in 2001 when Dakuidreketi was made chair of the company's board.

Businessman Ballu Khan then proposed that VDCL buy shares into Pacific Connex, which was done and VDCL had 51 per cent of the company.

Then in January 2004, it was proposed that Pacific Connex supply NLTB with MYSAP, a software for the company.

It was proposed that Pacific Connex would foot the bill for the software and would get paid once the software was installed.

Between March 2004 and September 2005, money from the extinct mataqali funds and government grants, and a security for a loan, were provided to Pacific Connex through VDCL.

In his judgement, Justice Bandara said Dakuidreketi was aware of the poor financial status of Pacific Connex and failed to advise the VDCL and NLTB board.

He said turning a blind eye to the situation was more blame worthy than negligence because while VDCL made a profit, Pacific Connex was cash-strapped and had failed to get its account audited.

Justice Bandara said from the action of the accused, it could be inferred that his actions were for the purpose of gain.

He said the prosecution had proved this beyond reasonable doubt.

Meanwhile, co-accused Kalivati Bakani who had pleaded guilty will present his mitigation tomorrow while Dakuidreketi will front the court next Tuesday to inform the court of his character witnesses.

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