Documents presented show Qarase applied for FHL shares

Documents presented show Qarase applied for FHL shares

Saturday 07/07/2012
Day two of former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase’s Fijian Holdings trial yesterday saw FICAC Senior Counsel, Michael Blanchflower presenting several documents showing that Qarase had applied for FHL shares for Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments and Q-Ten Investments.

As FICAC witness, former FHL Secretary and CEO, Sitiveni Weleilakeba took the stand again today, he confirmed after citing documents presented by Blanchflower that between March and May 1992 Qarase applied for 200,000 Class A FHL shares on behalf of Q-Ten Investments.

Weleilakeba also confirmed that Q-Ten Investments Limited was allocated the 200,000 shares in a FHL board meeting on May 29th, 1992 after looking at the minutes of the meeting. 

It was also confirmed that Qarase was present in the meeting as a director of FHL. Weleilakeba confirms that Qarase did not declare his interest.

Blanchflower presented an additional document which was a letter written by Qarase on November 20th, 1991 on behalf of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited to Weleilakeba. 

In the letter Qarase said he was applying on behalf of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society for 180,000 FHL shares and a cheque of $180,000 was enclosed with the letter. 

The letter was signed by Qarase and the address for Cicia Plantation Co-op Society was C/0 Laisenia Qarase, Fiji Development Bank. Qarase was a director of FHL at the time. 
Then the minutes of the FHL board meeting on December 27th, 1991 recorded by Weleilakeba were presented to him in court by Blanchflower. 

He confirmed that the board approved and alloted the 180,000 Class A shares to Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited. 

According to the minutes, Qarase attended the meeting as the FHL director and did not declare his interest. 

In the same meeting it was also agreed that the dividends for 1992 would be paid at a rate of 20% for Class A shares.

The next document presented was a letter by Qarase to Weleilakeba on 7th February, 1992 as a Director of Mavana Investments Limited. 

Weleilakeba confirmed that Qarase was a FHL director at the time.

In the signed letter, Qarase applied to purchase 200,000 Class A FHL shares for Mavana Investments and said that if approved, the cash contribution would be paid via the Fiji Development Bank (as FDB was giving loans to indigenous Fijians for their participation in business).

In another minute of the FHL meeting it was also confirmed that Qarase was part of a meeting that decided that Class A shareholders will get a 10% interim dividend. 

This meant that Cicia Plantation Co-op Society would also get the dividend. 

It was highlighted from the minutes that Weleilakeba declared his interest as Stiks Investments Limited made an application to acquire 150,000 Class A shares. 

Weleilakeba said he declared his interest as he was a shareholder in Stiks Investments and had a financial interest in the company. He also stated in court today that no other FHL board member made any such declaration in that meeting. 

200,000 shares were alloted to Mavana Investments in the same meeting.
Another letter signed by Qarase from FDB to Weleilakeba dated April 23rd, 1992 was presented by FICAC in court where he applied for a further 220,000 Class A FHL shares for Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited. 

According to the FHL board minutes of May 29th, 1992 Cicia Plantation was alloted the 220,000 shares. 

Weleilakeba confirms Qarase attended the board meeting as a director but did not make a declaration.

Blanchflower has already told the court that Q-Ten Investments is a company owned by Qarase’s wife and children, Mavana Investments is a company owned by some of Qarase’s family members and villagers where Qarase is from, while Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited is a company where Qarase was appointed as an advisor.

Qarase is charged with 6 counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to property in which he has a private interest. 

The trial will continue at 9.30am Monday.

Stay with us for coverage of Qarase’s trial. 

Story by: Vijay Narayan

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