Leave to Appeal Sentence Refused for $4.1 million Fraudster

Media Team   |   23 Nov 2020

The former Acting Deputy Official Receiver whose corrupt practices resulted in the loss of $4.1 million FJD from the Office of the Official Receiver’s Bankruptcy and Liquidation Accounts had his appeal against sentence refused in the Court of Appeal today.

Viliame Katia was sentenced to 23-years imprisonment in 2018 after being re-sentenced by the Suva High Court for engineering 1,415 fraudulent transactions over seven (7) years.

The ground of his appeal was that the Sentencing Judge had erred in law by not following the sentencing principle set out in Veresa v State AAU 101/13.

Justice of Appeal, Honourable Justice Mr Chandana Prematilaka held that the single ground of appeal relied on by Katia had absolutely no possibility of success and that its unsuccessful outcome was so obvious that it could not be held as being arguable with a reasonable prospect of success.

Justice Prematilaka then dismissed the appeal for being frivolous under section 35(2) of the Court of Appeal Act.

Katia was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with four (4) counts of Forgery, three (3) counts of Abuse of Office and one (1) count each of Embezzlement by Servant, False Information to Public Servant, Unauthorized Modification of Data and Obtaining a Financial Advantage.

He was initially convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in June 2017 in the Suva Magistrates Court following the Learned Magistrate’s refusal to transfer the matter to the High Court for sentencing.

However, he was re-sentenced to 23 years in the Suva High Court after a successful appeal by FICAC against the refusal of the Learned Magistrate to transfer the matter to the High Court for sentencing and the initial sentence.

Katia must serve 22 years of imprisonment before he can be considered eligible for parole.