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Fiji Time: 5:33 PM on Wednesday 17 September

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Six years jail

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, August 16, 2014

TEARS flowed as family members farewelled businessman Keni Dakuidreketi and former Native Land Trust Board general manager Kalivati Bakani after they were sentenced to six years and four years in jail respectively by the High Court in Suva.

Bakani had pleaded guilty to five counts of abuse of office while Dakuidreketi was convicted after a trial lasting a month and a half.

The charges resulted from the two men facilitating loans for IT company Pacific Connex through NLTB's commercial arm Vanua Development Corporation Limited using extinct mataqali funds, trust funds and grants.

The two also provided security for a loan and an overdraft facility for Pacific Connex.

Justice Janaka Bandara said $5million of public funds, mostly those belonging to iTaukei landowners, had been given to Pacific Connex of which only $200,000 was returned.

According to the order of events, when VDCL was formed to invest landowners' money, a proposal was given to the NLTB by Pacific Connex for a $4.6m software upgrade.

Pacific Connex had also proposed to VDCL that it buy shares in the company. The resolution was passed and VDCL became 51 per cent shareholder.

Bakani and Dakuidreketi became directors on the Pacific Connex Board.

Bakani was sentenced to 12 months in jail on each of the five counts while Dakuidreketi was sentenced to 18 months for each of the five counts.

Justice Bandara ordered that three counts dealing with loans from VDCL to Pacific Connex be served consecutively while the two counts where loan security was provided be served concurrently.

However Justice Bandara ordered that the concurrent term and the consecutive term be served consecutively.