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Fijian Affairs Board
Fijian Holdings Limited
The matter was called for hearing in the Supreme Court today where Qarase's lawyer Tupou Draunidalo informed Chief Justice Anthony Gates, Judge Justice Prabhaharan Kumararatne and Justice Sathya Hettige that they have decided to withdraw their appeal.
Qarase's counsel Tupou Draunidalo questioned FICAC witness and former FHL CEO Sitiveni Weleilakeba whether he thought it was unfair to other indigenous Fijians when his company Stiks Investments applied for 150,000 Class A shares in FHL.
Weleilakeba said that he took the opportunity to invest when it was offered to him. He went on to say that at the time, FHL was well known in the indigenous Fijian community and the opportunities at FHL were well known to the community.
Laisenia Qarase with his lawyer Tupou Draunidalo
Blanchflower made the submission to Justice Priyantha Fernando today after Qarase's lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo made an application for no case to answer for her client. Earlier today, Draunidalo filed the application for no case to answer. Draunidalo said that in her submission on the six abuse of office charges faced by Qarase, the prosecution has not proven the necessary elements which include employment in the public service which is connected with the alleged abusive act, an arbitrary act done in abuse of authority, prejudice to others and gain to the accused. Draunidalo said that on the three discharge of duty charges, prosecution has not proven employment in the public service, existence of any property of a special character and any culpable discharge of duty by accused in respect of property in which the accused has an alleged private interest. Draunidalo said that in the Prosecution case, all charges alleged that Laisenia Qarase was a person employed in the public service because he was employed as Director of Fijian Holdings Limited, Financial Advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and Advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs. She said that it was established earlier in relation to Ratu Meli Bainimarama's evidence that there is no such position as "Advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs".
Qarase's counsel, Tupou Draunidalo has already finished cross-examining Weleilakeba.
During the cross examination, Blanchflower objected to questions raised by Draunidalo that it was not unfair to indigenous Fijians how the FHL shares were allotted in the early 1990's. Draunidalo questioned Weleilakeba whether he thought it was unfair to other indigenous Fijians when his company Stiks Investments applied for 150,000 Class A shares in FHL. Weleilakeba said that he took the opportunity to invest when it was offered to him. He went on to say that at the time, FHL was well known in the indigenous Fijian community and the opportunities at FHL were well known to the community.
Laisenia Qarase and his lawyer Tupou Draunidalo
While cross examining FICAC witness and former CEO of FHL Sitiveni Weleilakeba today, Qarase's counsel Tupou Draunidalo put to him that Qarase verbally declared his interest in Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Q-Ten Investments and association with Mavana Investments Limited prior to decisions made by the FHL board. Weleilakeba also confirmed that the dividend returns for Class A shareholders were very attractive after Draunidalo asked him whether the dividends have returned the initial investments many times over. Another document dated November 3rd 1993 was then presented by Draunidalo which showed the special resolutions of the FHL AGM. Weleilakeba confirmed that the presence of all shareholders including FAB was necessary and in that AGM, all the companies allotted FHL shares to that date including Cicia Plantation, Q-Ten Investments and Mavana Investments were ratified by the shareholders in attendance. Copies of some FHL cheques were also presented by Draunidalo which showed only Weleilakeba signing the cheques although the signatories were him and two directors.