Abuse of office allegation

Listen to this article:

Minister for Forestry Kalaveti Ravu. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

The Fiji Pine Trust has made serious allegations of abuse of office against the Ministry of Forestry and Minister Kalaveti Ravu.

The Fiji Pine Trust chairman Taniela Nakibo in a media release claimed Mr Ravu had written a letter to Fiji Pine Ltd board chairman and assistant Minister for Home Affairs Rakuita Vakalalabure to defer the distribution of land security bonus payment (LSBP).

“Earlier in the year, the same minister wrote a letter instructing to stop all board meetings and trustees meeting of FPG. We wrote to object to this, following which the minister withdrew his letter,” Mr Nakibo claimed.

“In the recent board meeting, the board unanimously approved LSBP payment of $6 million out of 2022 audited profits, The LSBP was to be paid out four weeks ago. All preparation was underway when the Ministry of Forestry wrote a letter to stop the LSBP.”

He said this was an act of abuse of office as the ministry held class B and C redeemable preference shares that had no dividend rights. “Landowners in their beneficiaries meeting unanimously resolved to have one of the landowner directors to be the board chairman, however, the ministry through its manipulation managed to appoint Rakuita Vakalalabure as chairman.

“The Fiji Pine Trust is objecting this since it is not in accordance with the articles. Now the same chairman is acting like one executive chairman.”

Questions sent to the ministry on the claims made by Mr Nakibo remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

Meanwhile, in a separate media release on Monday, the Ministry of Forestry stated it did not interfere in the day-to-day running of the company, and stated bonus payments were the prerogative of the board of directors of Fiji Pine Ltd Company and not the ministry.

“As a partner in the industry, the ministry wants to reassure landowners that it is committed to achieving the goals of the sector, including the transfer of ownership to landowners once the business has reached a level of stable financial growth and resource availability,” the ministry statement read.