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Housing Ministry staff implicated in land sale scam

September 17, 2020 12:55 pm
Minister Premila Kumar [M]while expressing her disappointment says they also suspect more former staff could have been involved in the illegal acts.

Two staff from the Ministry of Housing are now being investigated for their involvement in recent land sale scams.

Minister Premila Kumar expressed her disappointment saying the two staff have not reported to work since the issue surfaced.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is now investigating the matter.

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It was discovered that letters using fake letterheads were issued to the public.

These letters authorized the people to build houses in River Road, Narere, Nasinu and Millennium informal settlement in Nausori.

“There are certain letters we find that was undated and the former director of Housing his name were used. The letter was done in such a way that the first part of the letter had all the content and the second part had the signature and the signature was photocopied. So these are the issues the Ministry of Housing is trying to deal with.”

The Minister believes that other former staff may also be part of the scam and names have already been sent with FICAC.

To date, eight cases from Millennium Settlement and another three from River Road have been forwarded to FICAC.

“This is corruption. You cannot be paying money to a staff of the ministry to get a place to build your home. This is not how it works. You know as you pay your electricity bill or water bill – where do you go? Either you go the institutions or pay online because you know the account number. Then how come when it comes to a land deal you are dealing with a staff in secret places exchanging money and then pleading innocent.”

Only two families from River Road Settlement have so far confirmed paying cash while FICAC has informed the Ministry that a Justice of Peace has also been questioned for further investigation.

The Housing Ministry is urging members of the public not to give money to any individual without verifying their background and credentials, as well as demanding a receipt for any payment.

It was also clarified that the Ministry is not engaged in sale of land or issuance of leases.

These are normally done by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, iTLTB, Housing Authority and other private developers.

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