Fiji Anti-Corruption Deputy Chief Denies Govt Interference, Cites Past Prevalence

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Fiji’s Anti-Corruption Agency has dismissed claims of government interference, stating it was prevalent during the former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s time.

Francis Pulewai’s comments came in response to Sayed-Khaiyum’s statements reportedly made in a video posted on FijiFirst Facebook page last weekend during which he accused the current government administration of meddling in Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption’s affairs.

“The former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum should be mindful of what he says for I can safely confirm that there was a lot of interference during his tenure as the Attorney General with FICAC. A clear case would be one of the pending cases that they were recently charged with by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the case is pending in court,” Pulewai said in a statement today reiterating FICAC’s independence from government influence, and that decisions made are based on evidence.

“Since taking up this post, FICAC at no point in time has received either directly or indirectly interference from the current Government Ministers or any Political Parties on any of its cases being investigated or any ongoing cases, and the due process is always strictly adhered to,” Pulewai said. “The due process within FICAC has not been compromised since I took up this post, and the integrity of the Justice system and the prosecutorial process has always been protected and adhered to.

“It should be highlighted that all complaints received are treated with high priority and nevertheless will follow the due process of legal assessment and investigation before the respective charges are filed in court. The decision to charge solely rests on the evidence at hand and through the approval of the Deputy Commissioner.”

Regarding the issuance of Stop Departure Orders (SDO), Pulewai said that it is solely applied at the discretion of the Acting Deputy Commissioner on a case-by-case basis, especially for high-profile suspects. The measure, she said, is to prevent suspects from leaving the country during investigations.

“There have been instances where suspects have left the country without our knowledge when there is an investigation underway, and upon arrival in another country, they immediately apply for a ‘Protection Visa,’ claiming that the investigation against him or her is politically motivated.

“FICAC will continue to be independent in its work and will follow the rule of law in carrying out its mandate. The former Attorney General is aware of the due process of issuing the SDO, and FICAC will remain vigilant in its work in upholding the rule of law.”

Sayed-Khaiyum, former General Secretary of FijiFirst, made the comments during a presser over the weekend, a video of which was posted on the party’s Facebook page.

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