The Mau Patel Trial

Mau (L); Patel (R) Photo: Fiji Village
I have not commented on this trial as it progressed.  The Corruption Commission (FICAC) claimed that the alleged offence was abuse of  office when in 2003 the two accused did not follow proper and ethical procedures in the purchase of a $75,000 Post Office clock. At the time Peni Mau was managing director and Mahendra Motibhai Patel a board member of the government-owned Post Fiji Ltd. The clock was purchased from Patel's Motibhai and Sons. Mau was said to be doing Patel "a favour", and Patel wanted to made a quick buck.

Fiji does not have a jury system.  Instead, three assessors assist the judge to reach a verdict. In this case, two of the three assessors found Mau guilty and Patel was found not guilty.  The judge overruled the not guilty recommendation and sentenced Mau (63) to 9 months jail and Patel (71) to 12 months. They did not express remorse for their offence.  Justice Goundar's full judgment is posted below. The Weekend Readings include a post that deals with how one anti-government blog has handled this and other cases of corruption. 

One reader comments:
On the one hand this good. It is the first real victory by FICAC and sends the strongest possible message to the community about corruption to date. The decision in my view looks right and the sentence hard but fair. People will think twice now before using positions of power and trust for personal gain. This speaks far louder than the PM's words on the topic.

On the other hand it is bad - it highlights much of the unfairness we have seen over the last 4 years. These two have been found guilty but dozens of CEO's and board members where removed with no-recourse, no charges. We have seen bigger issues at FHL Board recently but presumably because this involved a military-appointed board (and a key military person) it seems to have been swept under the carpet.

I applaud FICAC on pursuing this one but for real change the government needs to ensure FICAC treats its own the same way....and not just when they fall out of favour with the PM (think former finance minister).

And another reader writes:The trial seems to have depended on the evidence of Adish Naidu, the architect for Post Fiji. The judge accepted his evidence, and convicted both the defendants. The sentence was within the tariff for abuse of office cases. In fact Kunatuba in the Agriculture scam got a heavier sentence. I understand they are both appealing and that they will ask the Court of Appeal for bail. The case is a good example of everyone being equal before the law. The criticisms I have heard of the conviction and sentences seem to be more about the status of Motibhai, and less about the evidence.

WEEKEND READING.  ♦ Allen Lockington Column ♦ Burying a Blog: Uneven Corruption Reporting ♦ Poverty Alleviation and Poverty Statistics  ♦ People's Charter Pillar 7 (Provincial Development): For Discussion


A start but more to do said…
I'd like to see former top cop Teleni be investigated by FICAC and charged. It seems pretty clear he used all the police resources at his disposal to the advantage of his brothers church. Lets see FICAC investiagte that and press charges then I will start to believe there is real change in the air.

As it stands we was able to 'resign' and step into a offshore role. Same for Dept Chairman of RFMF.
Wall said…
Well done honored judge - maybe the Francis Kean outcome would have been different if before this man ?

The real test will come when (if) a military man comes before the courts. Then we will know if things have changed in the last 12months and if the courts are now idependent.
Yea yea said…
It makes you wonder how many times Patel has used his power and influence to make a sale for his company. It would have been a brave CEO who said no to him. Just like no one was going to say no the our PM's backpay or no to Teleni wasting so much money on the new methodist church.
Proud fijian said…
@ A start...

Why do you want to comment on Teleni when the posting was about the Mau Patel trial.

If you have any evidence or compaints why don't you contact FICAC.
Anonymous said…
@ Proud

Do you seriously think FICAC would be allowed to investigate one of the military or government. Remember the finance minister that was cleared and only charged after he stopped supporting Frank.

And evidence - we all saw the circus in Suva every other day with dancing police. Actually many many brave people complained and that is why he "resigned" but he should have been sacked and investigated.

The same rules should be applied to all.
Sloane Ranger said…
Sackings, investigations and the 'Status of Motibhai'? All sackings and resultant investigations cost taxpayers money. So, we ought to carefully judge which sackings, which investigations before acting. Is the taxpayers' dollar going to be better which way? Cost/Benefit analysis! On the Status of Motibhai: it seems that their prices have gone ballistic of late. Time for the Commerce Commission to pay a visit. Is an alleged attempt being made to have the Consumers of Fiji pay for the lawyers' bills? It seems not unreasonable to suspect so. For prices have risen in a short space of time by large percentages across the board. In some cases, the goods supplied are quite obviously "seconds" but are being sold at known "firsts" prices. This kind of profiteering will kill the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

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