Five ex-Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers faced court charges this week for fraudulently converting 234 foreign driver’s licenses to local ones from 2020 to early 2022, with one officer allegedly receiving payments of around $130,000.
The accused, Ponipate Seuvou (pictured), Sera Tulele, Adi Tabusiga Ligairi, Adi Akisi Duruibou, and Cema Sau, were charged with forgery and bribery.
According to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), out of the 234 licenses, 231 were forged to appear as if they were issued by authorities from various countries in an attempt to meet the requirements of the LTA and obtain valid Fijian driver’s licenses.
Seuvou is believed to be responsible for forging and charging 231 applicants who are currently residing overseas through the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). Each applicant was allegedly charged up to $750, resulting in a total of $128,322.79. Seuvou is also alleged to have paid bribes totaling $26,812.77 to other accused individuals, one of whom has fled the country.
During the court proceedings, FICAC Senior State Counsel Laite Bokini-Ratu informed the court that the initial phase of disclosures had been provided to the five accused. Resident Magistrate Savou granted each accused a non-cash bail of $1000, with several conditions, including not re-offending, not interfering with state witnesses, not changing their residential addresses without court approval, and surrendering all travel documents.
Seuvou was specifically ordered to report to the Valelevu Police Station monthly, starting from July 30. Duruibou and Sau were directed to report to the Valelevu Police Station monthly, Tulele to the FICAC Office monthly, and Ligairi to the Savusavu Police Station monthly.
A stop departure order has been issued against the accused individuals, and the case has been adjourned until July 24.