Court ruling

Russian superyacht leaves Fiji for US following a court ruling

Fiji's Supreme Court lifted a stay order which had prevented the U.S. from seizing the superyacht Amadea.

A US Justice Department's Taskforce has focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.

The 106m Amadea arrived in Fiji on 13 April after an 18-day voyage from Mexico.

It was seized by Fiji authorities after the country's High Court granted a US warrant last month that linked the yacht to sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.

Tonga may be forced to dissolve parliament - Moala

The latest MP to lose his seat over bribery charges is the Deputy Prime Minister Poasi Tei, who joins former Prime Minister, Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, Sangster Saulala and Finance Minister Tatafu Moeaki.

They all have an opportunity to appeal but they have lost their seats regardless.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Tonga, Kalafi Moala, who is also a long time observer of Tongan politics, said it may leave the Tonga parliament short of a quorum with it next month having to meet in order to pass the Budget.

Tonga's deputy prime minister ousted after bribery ruling

Tei was found guilty of bribery during the campaign for Tonga's general election last November.

The ruling was handed down by Justice Laki Niu reports RNZ Pacific.

Last week successful election petitions were filed against the former prime minister, Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa and internal affairs minister, Sangstar Saulala, and both men were found guilty of bribing voters while campaigning for the election last year.

Tonga's finance minister Tatafu Moeaki was also found guilty of bribery.

They have now all lost their seats in Parliament.

Former Tonga PM Pōhiva Tu‘i‘onetoa loses seat through electoral petition

Tu’i’onetoa was found guilty on Friday of bribery in the lead up to the 2021 General Elections.

Farmer and registered voter for Tongatapu 10, Kelekolio Taniela Kiu filed the election petition alleging Tu‘i‘onetoa committed bribery on two occasions.

Kaniva News reports Kiu claimed that TP$50,000 was offered to the Women’s Group of Tongatapu on behalf of Dr. Tu’i’onetoa to influence voters.

The second case involved the opening of the ‘Afā Wharf.

Tonga Minister takes leave pending court ruling

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a brief statement yesterday saying Lauvalu's request for leave was approved. 

Lavulavu and her husband Etuate were found guilty of fraud earlier this month.

They were convicted for using student numbers they knew were false to apply for government grants.

The Lavulavu’s incorrectly received more than US$250,000 when they owned and operated the 'Unuaki 'o Tonga Royal Institute.

The court found the funds did not make it to the school.

The couple will be sentenced on 2 July.


Supreme Court Rules Tourism Minister Acted Unlawfully in Dismissing Four Directors

Lord Chief Justice Paulsen told the Supreme Court that four people, Tomifa Paea, Simana Kami, Finau Uata and Kisione Pakalani were appointed by Cabinet as directors of the board under the Tonga Tourism Authority Act 2012.

Kaniva News reports their appointments were confirmed for a period of up to three years by the then minister. ‘Etuate Lavulavu.

On June 17 2016 the new Tourism Minister, Semisi Sika, wrote to them, saying they had only been appointed for the balance of the term of a resigning director who they had replaced and that their appointments had expired.

PNG Supreme court rules Australian offshore detention centre illegal

The five-man bench ruled that the detention breached the right to personal liberty in the Constitution. Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justices Sir Bernard Sakora, Ambeng Kandakasi, Don Sawong and Terence Higgins also ordered that both Australia and Papua New Guinea Governments take all necessary steps to stop the operations of the regional processing centre.

Around 900 men are in the detention center on the Papua New Guinean Island, according to Australian immigration authorities.

Court quashes removal of Tongan nobles from TBC board

RNZI reports in October last year the broadcasting minister Poasi Tei, had removed Dowager Lady Fielakepa and Dowager Lady Fusitu'a from the TBC board.

Prime minister, Akilisi Pohiva, at the time said it was part of a government reform strategy recommended by the World Bank.