Judgment for Former Information Officer in November

Media Team   |   20 Aug 2018

The Suva Magistrates Court heard the closing submissions from Prosecution and Defence counsels in the case involving Ms. Sainiana Waqainabete last Friday.

She was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) in 2013 with nine (9) counts of "Obtaining a Financial Advantage by Deception" in her capacity as the Principal Information Officer of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities.

It is alleged that she acquired $5,760 between May, 2010 and June, 2011 from various businesses by requesting money for various events.

FICAC Prosecutor Mr. Rashmi Aslam reminded the Court that the evidence provided by Prosecution clearly showed that though the money requested by the Accused was supposed to be for events held by the Ministry, the bank statements revealed that the acquired money was deposited into her personal bank account.

Furthermore, the patterns of withdrawal were irregular with the requests and what the money was actually supposed to be used for.

Mr. Aslam also highlighted that the email exchange between Ms. Waqainabete, Mr. Timoci Natuva and the Prime Minister served as both a confession and admission to the allegations against her.

The email encouraged her to seek avenues for restitution to avoid facing the Court, which, in fact, was an admission.

Defence counsel, Mr. Filimoni Vosarogo responded to that by asking the Court whether the above mentioned email was admissible in court or not when put against the Admissibility Rule.

He discredited the chain of emails highlighting that the email was sent two (2) days before FICAC began their investigations - before the Accused was even aware of the charges against her.

Moreover, Mr. Vosarogo told the Court that Mr. Natuva exerted authority over the Accused to send those emails as he was in a position of power at that time.

He also encouraged the Court to consider what constitutes deception, being deceived and the deceiver when going through the evidence and particulars of the case to determine where the deceit lies.

Resident Magistrate Ms. Waleen George adjourned the matter to 9 November 2018 for Judgment.