Qiliho alleged to have stopped USP investigation

July 20, 2023 4:45 pm

Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

The fifth prosecution witness in the trial against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho today testified that she was shocked when she was allegedly asked by the police commissioner to stop the investigation into the University of the South Pacific.

Acting Director Economic Crime Reshmi Dass who was the investigating officer in the USP case took the stand as the trial continued into its fourth day today.

During the examination in chief by Acting Director of Public Prosecution David Toganivalu, Dass said she had a conversation with the suspended Police Commissioner on 15th July, 2020.

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Acting Director of Public Prosecution David Toganivalu

She says she had this conversation in the presence of former Director Criminal Investigation Department, SSP Serupepeli Neiko.

The witness informed the court that Qiliho allegedly told her to stop the investigation as the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption had done the same and that it was USP’s internal process.

She also alleged that Qiliho told her that this came from the Prime Minister’s office.

Dass testified that SSP Neiko was also listening to the conversation as the mobile phone was on speaker.

She says she wrote about the conversation in her notebook.

Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho in court today.

The witness also testified that after that she went to her office and immediately made entries in the diary and took it to her immediate supervisor, Manager Fraud Unit ASP Rajesh Kumar.

Dass says she was shocked by the suspended Commissioner’s instructions as there was a directive from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to get the suspects from USP for caution interview.

In cross-examination, she admitted that she received a file from Manager Fraud Unit ASP Rajesh Kumar on 15th February 2020 to carry out an investigation into USP.

She says during the course of the investigation, she did not speak with USP’s Executive Committee Council as some members were also allegedly implicated in the matter.

Suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho outside court today.

She says she was aware of the extensive investigation conducted by BDO Auckland and that FICAC had also carried out an investigation.

She also testified that there was no endorsement on the police docket to show that the investigation stopped.

Dass says in October 2020, two people were interviewed in relation to the USP investigation.

When questioned whether she knew when the investigation into USP actually stopped, she replied that ASP Rajesh Kumar wrote to Director CID about it on 6th January 2022.

The defence counsel also questioned her whether she lodged a complaint after she was allegedly given instructions by Qiliho to stop the investigation to which she answered ‘no’.

She also testified that the file was not filed away as the investigation was still in the initial stages and she was not comfortable about filing it.

The fifth prosecution witness also said that the investigation commenced again this year under the instructions of current Director CID SSP Loraini Seru as the complainant sought an update on the progress.

She remained adamant that the suspended Police Commissioner had allegedly given the directive to stop the investigation.

Dass also said that on 3rd February this year, she was asked by the Taskforce Unit to provide a statement about her conversation with the suspended police commissioner on 15th July 2020.

Bainimarama is charged with a count of attempting to pervert the course of justice, while Qiliho is charged with a count of abuse of office.

The trial continues in the Suva Magistrates Court.

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