The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) write with reference to the media release of the Office of the Auditor General dated 04 February 2020, regarding the investigation report on the awarding of the consultancy contract for the Rewa Dairy Cooperative Limited restructure.
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has claimed that the Commission's (FICAC) findings that the OAG relied on a single officer from the Ministry of Industry and Trade is factually incorrect. We wish to re-affirm that that was the correct position reflected in the Auditor General's documents obtained through a search warrant and later confirmed by the officer responsible for the Audit in his interview with FICAC. The interview verbatim is available as proof of that fact.
FICAC further wishes to clarify that the Commission's inquiry was of criminal nature and under the Criminal Procedure Act and there was no requirement to obtain any formal "comment" as claimed by the Auditor General's Office. FICAC acted under the powers given to the Commission in requiring a Public Servant (the officer of the Auditor General) to answer relevant questions. Needless to say, non-cooperation by a public servant is a criminal offence.
Further, when FICAC requested for the relevant documents from the office of the Auditor General with a search warrant in the first place, the FICAC Officer was told that the documents were not available at the Office of the Auditor General. When FICAC conducted a prompt inquiry again, it was found that the relevant documents were, in fact, still available with the office of the Auditor General, contrary to their initial claim, and the documents were then released to the Commission. This not only misled the Commission, but also delayed the inquiry.
Lastly, the Commission fails to understand the relevance of the statement " the Auditor General is also responsible for the audit of the financial statement of the Commission" as it is out of context.
FICAC respects the functions of the Auditor General under the Constitution. The Commission will always accommodate the audit as long as the office of the Auditor General acts within its legal mandate, unlike the audit inquiry conducted on the tender issue of the Rewa Dairy Cooperative Ltd.