Complaint By Politicans On The Alleged False Claims By Former Chairman Of The Electoral Commission And The Supervisor Of Elections

Media Team   |   28 Jan 2022

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) has concluded its investigation into the complaint made by the leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, leader of Freedom Alliance Mr Jagath Karunaratne and leader of Unity Fiji Mr Savenaca Narube.

The letter of complaint dated 21 December 2021 alleged the following:

a. The former Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr Suresh Chandra, had claimed and was paid sitting allowances at the rate of $500 per meeting for numerous days, over a long period of time, when the Commission did not have any scheduled or unscheduled meetings;

b. The Secretary to the Electoral Commission, Mr Mohammed Saneem, paid the above mentioned false and fraudulent claims amounting to several thousand dollars by way of issuance of cash cheques;

c. Mr Mohammed Saneem as the Supervisor of Elections recruited a staff to a specially created position of Public Relations and Engagement Coordinator without advertising the post.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) initiated a thorough investigation and verified all relevant documents relating to the alleged payments, the recruitment process as well as interviewed a number of witnesses including the Complainants.

During the course of investigations, Mr Jagath Karunaratne withdrew his complaint and as such, did not provide a complete witness statement.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) has established that there were no evidence whatsoever to support any of the false or fraudulent payments claimed and paid by Mr Suresh Chandra and Mr Mohammed Saneem, respectively.

All payments made were legitimate payments verified and made in accordance with the Electoral Commission’s Governance and Operational Guidelines.

In relation to the recruitment allegation, it was established that the Fijian Elections Office had followed an open merit recruitment process as per its Human Resources Policy and all staff recruitments and their subsequent upgrading were done legitimately following the due process within the statutory powers vested in that Office.

As such, the allegations stated in the Complaint were baseless and without any merit. Furthermore, Mr Chaudhry and Mr Narube did not provide any cogent evidence to support their allegations during the investigations but simply relied upon hearsay information provided by unnamed sources.

As a result, the Commission has deemed that the complaint warrants no further legal action.