Friday, June 6, 2014

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons

Fijian Holdings Ltd Scandal: How Fijian Provinces were betrayed and looted by their trusted sons

Thakur Ranjit Singh,
(Initially published August, 2007)


People of Fiji had been told of corruption and questionable dealings by those who were considered the marshals, saviours and guardians of Fijian race. When Frank Bainimarama sacked Qarase regime and took charge, his reasoning, among others, was to save the I-Taukei (Fijian) race from unscrupulous and wanting leadership within I-Taukei community. My purpose here is to substantiate this through reporting on Senate proceedings of some two decades ago.
Adi Quini Bavadra (left) with husband Timoci Bavadra. During her days in Parliament in 1990s, she wanted this scandal to be investigated, but it was swept under the carpet by vested interests and influencial Chiefs and people in high places. Corruption of the highest order in Fijian Administration. ( Fiji Times photo)
When Adi Quini Bavadra was alive she tried her best to reveal the dealings in Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL) but people with power and influence won and this matter never saw the light of day. My lament had been that while Fiji has an abundance of copy journalists and copy feature writers; there is dearth of good, conscientious, bold and sincere investigative journalists. Perhaps somebody like that can pick the hints from here, and perhaps create an FHLgate.

However I will report on what took place in Fiji’s Senate on 18 May, 1993.


In the Senate sitting of 18 May, 1993 (pages 731 to 748), Senator Manu Korovulavula moved a motion for the Senate to call on Government to carry out an investigation into the method adopted by the Board of the Fijian Holdings Limited to allow limited liability companies to buy shares into the company (FHL) without the knowledge of 14 Provinces.Senator Korovulavula had stated that the motion was brought on a point of principle to reveal less than honest dealings of people in position of power, knowledge and trust.
Senator Manu Korovulavula who was a bold and conscientious Fijian who had guts to open this Pandora's box on Fijian Holding Scandal in Fiji Senate in May, 1993. Unfortunately, his commendable efforts went in vain as corruption and power of high Chiefs and influential people won, and this scandal was swept under the carpet by a so-called flourishing democracy in Fiji.
The intention of the motion was to reveal odd and strange method known to a selected group of shareholders who took advantage of this to borrow funds from the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) or the National Bank of Fiji (NBF) in order to buy shares in FHL.

As example of this a whole Province has only $50,000 Class A shares while a family private company shares add up to $200,000, which is a scam in any language. It is obvious someone somewhere had not been honest and loyal to the Fijian people in not telling them the truth.

FHL was primarily created to be owned by the Provincial Councils, Fijian people and Fijian institutions, NOT the elite limited liability family companies. The Great Council of Chiefs, right from its inception was unanimous to see that FHL was to be owned by 14 Provinces, Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) and Fijian Affairs Board (FAB). 

However the irony and shame is that according to 1992 annual report, 14 Provincial Councils and two Fijian institutions, NLTB and FAB hold only 30 % of total shares while the elite Fijians with their family limited liability companies hold 70% of shares. This is a fraud on the common indigenous people who are supposed to be shareholders of FHL through their respective provinces!

People of Fiji need to be made aware of Fijian Initiative. This Fijian advisory body comprised of intellectuals, professionals, businessmen and senior executives in the private and public sector. The aim of this initiative is to pull these resources, convene regular meetings and seminars to enable it to come up with recommendations to develop and assist Fijians to better themselves in all aspects of life, more so in the field of trade and commerce.

Senator Manu Korovulavula reported to Senate that it was interesting to know that some of the senior members of the Fijian Initiative did not consider it appropriate to advise the 14 Provincial Councils that they could borrow three or four times more from FDB, the amount of shares which they already had in FHL.
All this while, these senior Fijian sons took secretive actions to line their own and family’s pockets at the cost of Provincial Councils!

Senator Korovulavula revealed private shareholding of three provinces with which he was familiar. Please note that all figures, amounts and situations reported are as at 1993, and they may have changed now.


In Kadavu Province, he spoke about 3 companies. The first, Kadavu Development Company, which is fully owned by people of Kadavu, owned only $50,000 shares.
Former Qarase's Cabinet Minister Konisi Yabaki's Family Company owned $100,000 Class A shares when his Province Kadavu owned only half those shares.

The other, KJY Investment Limited, owned by Qarase’s CabinetMinister Konisi Yabaki and his family, owned $100,000 shares.

The third, Taoi Investment Limited, owned $200,000 shares. Shareholding in this Company then belonged to Jesoni Vitusagavulu and Ulaiasi Taoi. Vitusagavulu is former staff of FDB, former Air Pacific Executive, former Director of Fiji Trade and Investment Board and former Fiji’s High Commissioner to USA, appointed by deposed PM Qarase. Taoi used to be President of Indigenous Fijian Business Council. Previously Rodney Acraman also used to own shares which have since been bought by the remaining two shareholders.

Jesoni Vitusagavulu, who together with Ulai Taoi, once head of Fijian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce owned four times ($200,000) the shares that their Kadavu province owned ($50,000).

The interesting issue here in that Konisi Yabaki was then the Chairman while Vitusagavulu was Secretary respectively of Kadavu Development Company. They went ahead, used their positions to build their own interests at the cost of Kadavu Province.


The next province is Lomaiviti, which had only $55,100 shares while KB Investment Limited and 5X Investment Limited owned $100,000 each while Vensalisi Investment Limited had $80,000 shares.

KB Investment Limited, with $100, 000 shares is owned by Bakani family. The head of this family Kalivati Bakani is former executive of FDB, former Deputy General Manager of NBF, former Carpenters Executive and former CEO of NLTB. The purchase of shares was financed by NBF

Kalivati Bakani, once former boss of your truly at Carpenters Fiji Limited, owned $100,000 shares compared to $55,100 by his Lomaiviti Province.

5X Investment, with $100,000 shares, is owned by Lote Rabuku, Semesa Matanicake, Delai Sainikinaivalu, Penisoni Gauna and KB Investments. Note that acquisition of these shares was also financed by NBF.

Vensalisi Investment Limited, with $80,000 shares, is owned byIsikeli Mataitoga and family. Isikeli then was Director of Public Prosecutions and is CEO of Foreign Affairs.

Interesting point to note is that in less than two months after registration of 5X Investment, this $1 per Share Company got $75,000 loan from NBF. Additionally, three months after KB Investment Limited was registered, Kalivati Bakani’s wife got $107,000 loan from NBF where her husband was the then Deputy General Manager. Three months after Isikeli Mataitoga’s family company was registered, he obtained $64,000 from FDB which was headed by Qarase.


Now we move to the Province of deposed Prime Minister Qarase, Lau Provincial Council, which had only $50,100 shares. At same time, Stiks Investment Limited had $150,000, Q-Ten Investment Limited had $200,000 and Kepa Investment Limited had $100,000 worth of shares.
Deposed Prime Minister and the leader of FHL Scandal. A clean banker who was appointed by Bainimarama as Interim Prime Minister tasted power and fame and formed SDL political party, won election and sided with ethno-nationalists. He ignored Bainimarama's warnings to his peril when he was deposed on 6 December, 2006 by Bainimarama. His family company, Q-Ten Investments Limited owned almost four times ($200,000) the shares owned by his Lau Province.

Stiks Investment Limited shares of $150,000 are fully owned by Weleilakeba family. Sitiveni Weleilakeba was a former CEO of FHL and one time business partner of democracy activist Laisa Digitaki, together with whom, he tried to run Mobil Walu Bay Service Station which went into receivership and was then acquired by Carpenters Motors. The shares in Stiks had been financed by FDB.
Sitiveni Weleilakeba, former CEO of Fijian Holdings Limited owned $150,000 shares, almost three times more than his Lau Province.
Q-Ten Investment Limited held $200,000 shares, which is owned byLaisenia Qarase Family. One property CT 14743, Lot 2 was mortgaged twice to acquire finance for $112,400 and $353,217 respectively. Note that at the time, Laisenia Qarase was the Managing Director of FDB, the lender for share acquisition. At that time, Laisenia Qarase was also the financial advisor to the Fijian Affairs Board, but failed to advise them of this insider information of acquiring shares.

Kepa Investment Limited, with $100,000 shares, was wholly owned by Lakepa family, Satini and Milika, and financed by FDB.

An interesting point is that one of the nine points of Deuba Accord was for government to make $20m interest free LOAN to FHL through Fijian Affairs Board, repayable over 20 years. What taxpayers of Fiji need to know is under whose authority this taxpayers’ loan of $20m was converted to a gift for FHL. Note that board members of FHL, with shares then included Laisenia Qarase, Sitiveni Weleilakeba and Josaia Mar, who has been removed as Chairman of FEA by Commander. Also note that Laisenia Qarase was the interim Prime Minister when this shady and questionable deal took place.


What the Fijian race needs to ponder is that Qarase regime has been projecting Indo- Fijians as the common enemy of the indigenous race, the I-Taukei. Is this really so?Indigenous Fijian people had placed their faith in the hands of these intellectuals, so called professionals and who were supposed to be guiding the I-Taukei (Fijian) race. The FHL was the commercial vehicle through which the wellbeing of Fijian race was intended to be improved. The dependency of the wisdom of Great Council of Chiefs and the elders in the villagers was on the shoulders of the so called Fijian Initiative group. However these very same people tricked their own people while projection Indo-Fijians as villains.

With friends like the Fijian Initiative, the indigenous race needs no enemies at all. There is a saying that enemy who strike from front is miles better than friends who strike on the back. Fijian Provinces have been dealt commercially fatal blows on their backs by their trusted sons.

Perhaps those who are crying for Qarase regime to come back need to consider whether he is worthy of this honour. The Commander is right in trying to save the indigenous race from the enemy within, as there is no fear from those outside.

Those who were Senators in 1993, and were present in Senate, [including late past President Ratu Iloilo and] like Adi Litia Cakobau need to answer to the Fijian race why this call for investigation was swept under the carpet. Other Great Council of Chiefs nominees in that Senate also need to answer to their people.

And those racist politicians, their hangers-on and democracy refugee advocates in Australia and USA, who are now shedding crocodile tears for democracy (on Facebook), and who projected and put Indo- Fijians as red herrings should be made to answer to the indigenous race of this betrayal and who their real enemies are!


Bill Carson said...

Thank you Ranjit for your research and thanks Croz for publishing.

Food for thought for ordinary itaukeis !!!

Churnalism said...

Great job Thakur. You have put Fiji journalists to shame. They use the 2006 coup as an excuse but even before the coup, you hardly see any investigative journalism. Fiji journalists are best at copy-pasting and reproducing press releases. Lot of rhetoric by senior journalists on social media but very little evidence of solid investigative journalism. As the old journalism saying goes, 'opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one'. Show us some genuine journalism for once instead of pathetic bleating and political posturing.

Skirt journalism said...

Well done Thakur. I have also read your thesis. Good job on it. Media like to play the victim but they can be bullies. Fiji Times was downright bully and thug under Russell Hunter and Netani Rika in 2000. It is shocking to read they were even willing to condone skirt journalism in their vendetta against Mahen Chaudhry. A shameful episode in Fiji media history. For all their talk, there is very little evidence of solid journalism, let alone investigative journalism.

Anonymous said...

Seriously Thakur Sing, what a freaking mouthful you have said here. FHL was set up to assist Indigenous Fijians to be ale to get on par with the Fiji Indians who have business acumen in their blood. We do not have that as $$$ is something that you as an Indian would have been 100 years ahead seeing you knew the art of buying and selling or you were of that breed. To say that Fijian leaders who headed FHL then mis-represented the Indigenous Fijian people is just incorrect. Fijians were coming up and were being guided in to knowing how to conduct business. Then what happened? Your hero Bainimarama, Khaiyum & his infamous aunt Nor Bhano Ali cooked up a deal and allegedly circumvented the original intent of FHL. Now fast track the records and what does FHL stands for? Cement factory & Extractive Industries and raping the Green Fiji Forests is what it is all about. To add salt to injury, Khaiyum has ensured another of his long lists of Áli'or Mohammed has been given a very senior post therein, which does not include all the others that have filtrated the FHL Management system. And so you thing we as Indigenous Fijians are blinded to this moves? What happened to all the base funds that Fijians and their Chiefs had poured in from their meangre lease $$$. Its now fused with Bainimarama & Khaiyum's one race or no race doctrine introduced by the duo. So please tell me who is cheating who??

Anonymous said...

More about the dodgy FHL under the horrible trio: Bainimarama; Khaiyum; his aunt Nor Bhano Ali

Viti Noqu Viti - Truly Fijian Voices We all knew that the original Fijian Holding was set up to assist Indigenous Fijians to get into Business in Fiji. Fijians i.e Indigenous were very slow in catching on to the business way of doing things and Hon Laisenia Qarase as the then head of Fiji Development Bank helped put together this package under the guidance of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and the Fijian Chiefs. This was to ensure that Fijians got up to speed with how to be in business seeing that Fiji born Indians already had this in their blood i.e how to deal in business. And so what happened post 2006 Bainimarama played his manipulative game and 'kovea' the framework set up for the Fijian Holdings Limited and made it to what it is today. One only has to take a look at their promo stuff to read articles about how cement are made and extractive industries mostly run by Fiji Indian business men. So where has the Fijians gone? They are now reduced to be mere workers and not ones that can create and have their own businesses. Read more from exerpts and make up your own mind. "FHL ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT
OF NEW SUBSIDIARY HEAD. Fijian Holdings Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Azad Aktar Ali to the position of General Manager of its
new wholly owned subsidiary; FHL Logistics Limited. FHL Logistics Ltd is a shipping and logistics services provider. Mr Ali takes on his new role with a wealth of experience that spans 15 years. Prior to joining the FHL
Group, he served as Manager Transport & Marketing Operation at Carpenters Shipping where he also held
the positions of Acting Manager Transport & Waste Disposal and Manager Sales & Marketing.
“I am very excited with the appointment and with the opportunity to work for FHL”, said Mr Ali.
Welcoming the appointment, FHL Managing Director, Mrs Sereana Qoro said, “We recognize that Mr Ali
brings with him the ideal experience and business skills to lead as General Manager of the newly incorporated
FHL Logistics Limited. We acknowledge that Mr Ali's extensive knowledge in the shipping and logistics
industry will be a major asset for the FHL Group.”

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Now it is clear as daylight that Thakur Singh in 2007 conveniently helped Fiji's worst dictator Bainimarama and his stooge Khaiyum by framing the downfall of Fijians in Business as can be seen in this Thakur Singh investigative bull-crap article. In essence so what if all the names Thakur Singh listed made it into investing for their families. Good on them. So what business does Thakur has in waltzing in to the Fijian camp with his laptop and glasses to write our Fijian business stories? Who paid him? Of course we know. Just like what the others that think like him have done i.e Prof. Vijay Naidu, Nazhat Shameem and her other lawyer Shameem sisters all framing up cases to justify why 2006 coup needed to hold the political reign for the last 08 years. Thakur a message for you, write for your Fiji Indian community where you are an expert in and leave the Fijians to decide what is good or bad. It is not your place to tell us what to do. If you so hate Fijians so much we now know and just be ready to face the consequences.

Mother-Earth 1213 said...

Rea between the lines Bill Carson, Thakur Singh is racist. He wrote this article in 2007 to frame up the Indigenous Fijians in order to justify FHL to be what it is today by Voreqe Bainimarama & Aiyaz Saiyed Khaiyum via aunty Nor Bhano Ali a Kiwi Permanent Resident milking Fiji taxpayers $$$. It is a defunct company that wreaks of 1% Islam owned projects. Is that a better deal than seeing Fijians who are slow in business to build themselves up as was the original plans? This article by Thakur Singh is a load of cr*p. He wants to bring Fijians down at least those that could have been on par with Fiji Indian business entrepreneurs. The rest is history. Do open your minds wider Bill Carson otherwise you will drink from the same fountain that has muddy water.

Thakur Ranjit Singh said...

Hey Moron, Mother Earth 1213, if you understand English, I merely assembled the Senate proceedings brought about by your own race, Manu Korovulavula. I did not say those things, they are from Senate proceedings. Please understand English, and I am not saying those things. Your fellow Fijian said it against his own race, where Fijians screwed their own race, and this was done by your trusted sons.

Anonymous said...

Next please....waste of what if Fijians try to get ahead in business. E vacava kulina! Too much boro gaga sa tiko I loma!!!