Ratu Suliano found guilty

Fiji’s Opposition MP Ratu Suliano Matanitobua has been found guilty of one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining a financial advantage.

In his judgment, Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage said Mr. Matanitobua falsely stated his permanent place of residence to be Namosi Village in Namosi, and as such ob­tained $38,378.22 between August 2019 and April 2020 that he was not entitled to.

He said based on the evidence presented in court the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt both charges against Ratu Suliano, that neither Namosi village as he had stated in his declaration to parliament nor Veivatuloa village where he had built a house and frequents as well qualify as his places of permanent residence and thus was not eligible to receive the aforementioned payments.

In Namosi village, prosecution witnesses said that Ratu Suliano has an ancestral property or ‘yavu’ on the village, but has never lived there including from 1 August 2019 and April 2020. The prosecution said the same for his house in Veivatuloa village that it had been vacant for some time which they said was compounded by findings that no electricity consumption was generated during the period in question.

The court also heard that Ratu Suliano has a third home in Suva and that it had been occupied, but the prosecution could not prove that Ratu Suliano resided there. The prosecution relied on the lease documents for the house noting that it was listed under Ratu Suliano’s name.

The case has been adjourned to Friday, 29 July to set a hearing date for sentencing submissions. On the day, defense lawyer Filimone Vosarogo is expected to call upon three character witnesses before making their submissions.

Ratu Suliano is the second, of six SODELPA MPs charged with the same offenses relating to alleged breaches of the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014, to be convicted following Niko Nawaikula who was convicted and sentenced in May.

Under the PRA 2014, members of parliament are eligible to receive a traveling allowance if their permanent place of residence is located more than 30km from the place of the meeting of parliament or committee.

Foodie Night 1327x198 ad(1)
Top Stories