The cross examination of FICAC witness and former CEO of Fijian Holdings Limited, Sitiveni Weleilakeba continues in the Laisenia Qarase court trial today as the defence counsel continues to raise the questions on the processes followed by FHL to allot shares.
Upon questioning, Weleilakeba confirmed that employees and board directors were not disallowed to purchase FHL shares at the time as they only had to meet the criteria which was that the person has to be an indigenous Fijian registered under the Vola Ni Kawa Bula, has money to purchase the shares and the person had to be part of 50 shareholders as the limit stood at 50 at the time.
Weleilakeba confirmed that the only other FHL board director who had applied to purchase shares was Joe Mar.
When questioned on whether the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was part of the FHL board, Weleilakeba said Ratu Mara was only the architect of FHL but he never served as a board member.
However, he confirmed that in 1988, Ministers Navunisaravi, Josevata Kamikamica and Berenado Vunibobo were part of the FHL board. He also confirmed that Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor, Ratu Jone Kubuabola was also part of the board.
Meanwhile Qarase’s lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo raised the question on why only the FHL board resolutions were recorded in the minutes of the meetings.
Draunidalo said to Weleilakeba on whether it would be correct to say that not recording the discussions prior to the board decision reached is a practice that is not good corporate governance. Weleilakeba who was the minute taker as FHL Secretary said this was done 20 years ago and the then Chairman, the late Lyle Cupit only wanted the board resolutions recorded.
Draunidalo also questioned Weleilakeba if he received any training on holding the position of company Secretary.
Weleilakeba said he can confirm that he received no training in this area.
Qarase’s lawyer then asked Weleilakeba whether it would be correct to say that they just have to rely on Weleilakeba’s words and assume that Qarase voted on all the resolutions brought forward to the FHL board.
Draunidalo also told Weleilakeba that he did not bother to record the discussions before a board decision or even if someone abstained from voting.
Weleilakeba replied that there was time given to the directors to correct anything in the minutes in the following board meeting.
Upon questioning, Weleilakeba also confirmed that all the applications for FHL shares by Qarase for Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and Q-Ten Investments Limited were attached with all the details when it was forwarded to the board for approval of allotment of the shares.
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 continues before Justice Priyantha Fernando.
You can also follow Qarase’s trial on fijivillage.com
Story by: Vijay Narayan