FICAC investigated mismanagement of funds at the University of the South Pacific

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption discovered abuse and mismanagement of allowances paid to staff at the University of the South Pacific during an investigation in 2019.

The Prosecution’s second witness, Kuliniasi Saumi, revealed this when he gave evidence in the case against former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho.

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

Saumi was a FICAC Chief Investigator when USP Director of Assurance and Compliance Dulari Doras Traill filed a corruption complaint to FICAC in 2019.

Saumi said they established this after analyzing lawfully seized documents of interest from the University of the South Pacific’s finance, HR, secretariat, and compliance units.

He further revealed that people with higher authority within the university were implicated in their investigation.

The court heard that the investigation team led by Saumi presented these findings to the FICAC Commissioner and recommended that they proceed with caution interviews of those USP staff implicated.

Several days later, the Manager of Investigations, Isimeli Tagicaki, advised Saumi to halt the investigations.

During cross-examination by the defence counsel, the court was informed that the investigation ceased as USP’s Council opted for a private investigation into the alleged mismanagement of allowances.

Winston Thompson was the Council Chair during this period.

Tagicaki gave his directive for the investigation to proceed on April 25, 2019.