Two former executives of a regional body based in Suva appeared in a magistrates court in Suva today charged with corruption-related offenses.
In court, today, having been charged by FICAC were former Pacific Islands Development Forum Secretary General Solo Mara and the body’s former Director Corporate Services Umesh Chand over the alleged use of nearly $8,000 of the regional organisation’s funds for personal use.
It is alleged that between 1 June 2020 and 31 October 2021, Mr. Mara used $7,512 to install four solar-powered air condition units at his personal residence. As a result, Mr. Mara was charged with one (1) count of General Dishonesty – Obtaining A Gain and an alternate charge of one (1) count of General Dishonesty – Causing A Loss. He is also jointly charged with Mr. Prasad with one count of Aiding and Abetting – Obtaining A Gain.
FICAC Senior State Counsel Sam Savumiramira informed the court that the first phase of disclosures has been served. Resident Magistrate Savou questioned the immunity status of the two accused, to which, the Defence counsel Devanesh Sharma informed the court that an application to strike out the case would be filed. Prosecution Counsel informed the Court that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had given an order to lift the immunity status of the organisation before FICAC proceeded with its investigation.
Magistrate Savou granted a non-cash bail of $1000 for each of the accused and was ordered not to re-offend whilst on bail, and not to interfere with prosecution witnesses nor change their residential addresses without informing the court. They were also told to report to the FICAC Office in Suva on the last Monday of every month. Mr Prasad’s travel documents were surrendered to court as well. A stop-departure order was also issued.
The matter has been adjourned to 14 November 2022 for the second phase of disclosures to be filed.