Witness testifies on mismanagement complaint by union leaders

July 17, 2023 4:53 pm

The first prosecution witness in the trial against former Prime Minister and suspended Police Commissioner informed the court that union leaders lodged a police complaint of alleged mismanagement after the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption stopped their investigation.

University of the South Pacific Director of Assurance and Compliance, Dulari Doras Traill continued giving evidence in the Suva Magistrates Court today.

Traill is the first prosecution witness in the trial against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

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The charges stem from a complaint filed by the university in July 2019, pertaining to the conduct of former staff members.

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.

Traill says BDO from Auckland was selected to carry out an independent investigation following a report “Past Management Practice” prepared by Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

She testified that she provided support to police officers when approached for statements, uplifting of documents and also directed them to the relevant people.

However, she says she had lost faith and no longer wanted the investigation to continue.

During cross-examination by Defense Counsel, Devanesh Sharma she said that she came to know about Professor Ahluwalia’s report when she was summoned before the Executive Council Committee in March 2019.

Sharma highlighted the resolution made by the Committee and for Traill to get former Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra’s side of the story.

Earlier this morning, Traill in her examination had mentioned that following the implementation of the Whistleblower Policy, they had started receiving reports and issues including monies paid out to individuals who were not entitled to it.

She alleged that in one instance, Chair Winston Thompson had allegedly approved professional development leave for former VC Rajesh Chandra to allow him to write a book on his journey at USP.

She says this should not have been approved as the leave policy was used for upskilling senior leaders.

When examined by the defence counsel this afternoon, she testified that the Executive Council Committee was aware of the FICAC investigation and they had supported it.

She also said that the BDO looked at all the allegations raised in the report by Professor Ahluwalia.

The defence counsel highlighted that the letter by FICAC had only indicated the issues raised in the report by Professor Ahluwalia and not any other issues she had previously mentioned.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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