Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kick-Back Inc.

Blog-Invest in Fiji reviews the general procedures for approving foreign investors; an issue that was brought dramatically to the fore-front, in the wake of discrepancies within Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF). Subsequent accounting trails pointed to the alleged misappropriations in their flagship investment project at Natadola.

APRIL Development Project Manager, Keni Dakuidreketi was interviewed by Fiji TV and defended their involvement with the Natadola project. In the Fiji TV interview, Dakuidreketi was adamant that the FNPF Board of Directors was kept appraised of the construction by mile-stone reports and any delay was due to disruptions made by the construction company.

During the Fiji TV interview, Dakuidreketi assumed that, APRIL devlopment's transactional agreement made with FNPF would remain intact, eventhough a Director on the Board of APRIL Development had not fully disclosed his criminal record in Monaco. Dakuidreketi also attempted to clarify the amount of management fees paid to APRIL Development in a Radio Fiji article.

This is the excerpt of the Radio Fiji article:

Dakuidreketi Denies

Radio Fiji-16 Mar 2007 08:15:43

Project manager for April Keni Dakuidreketi has described the eight million dollars in management fees claimed that FNPF paid to his company for the Natadola Hotel Project is far fetched.

Dakuidreketi says his records show they’ve been paid only 4.3 million dollars. Yesterday Natadola Bay Resort Limited chairman Felix Anthony says the Fiji National Provident Fund has paid 8 million dollars to APRIL as management fees to oversee the Natadola Hotel Project.

Felix said, “The board is also been concerned or very concerned at the cost of which April was first hired to oversee the management of the project. Ever since the project has started in 2005, FNPF to date has paid them $8m just in management fees alone which we believe and the new board believe is far excessive of what really should be paid and our intention as the new board is to ensure that we minimize any wastage and not only that, but work within the budget to ensure that the project is completed.”

However April Development manager Keni Dakuidreketi said the 8 million dollars mentioned is double the figure shown in their records.

Keni said, “I’d just like to mention here is totally out of whack. My records will show that its 4.3 in total…that’s from 2004 when the project for that particular the issue that relates to that particular part they reported on which is Natadola Bay Resort Ltd, which is what the issue is about…I think the records will show that its about 4.3 million dollars.”

Dakuidreketi adds discussions with FNPF are ongoing.

Fiji Village article reports that APRIL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FNPF and that the representatives of APRIL were still in the dark, regarding FNPF's subsequent decision to terminate their relationship with APRIL Development.

Dakuidreketi was unrelenting in his interview with Fiji TV and almost forgot about the issue of conflict of interest on that particular project, which had prompted the native owners of the land to raise red flags. These concerns was also featured in a posting by S.i.F.M, regarding Dakuidreketi's membership on the Board of Directors for Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB), as well as being a representative of APRIL developments.

This is the excerpt of the Fiji Times article:

Landowners query board loyalty
Fiji Times Monday, July 24, 2006

THE Native Lands Trust Board was last week required to provide landowners of one of the country's largest tourism developments the reassurance that they are committed to protecting landowners' interests.

NLTB's Deputy General Manager Operations, Semi Tabakanalagi was swamped with concerns regarding the loyalty of the board during a meeting with landowners from Sanasana Village in Sigatoka.

Seven landowning units from the village own the land on which the Natadola Marine Resort project is currently being developed. A delegation led by Mr Tabakanalagi traveled to the village on Thursday to address grievances raised by landowners.

However, during the meeting Mr Tabakanalagi and his team were bombarded with claims that the board was working more with the project developers and either ignoring or sacrificing landowners' interests.

Landowners' spokesman, former cabinet minister and senator, Apisai Tora said the four units he was representing were concerned about their rights and interests being sacrificed to ensure the project continued. Mr Tora said a major concern of landowners was Keni Dakuidreketi's position with NLTB while being the main developer for the project.

"This is a clear case of conflict of interest and this has raised a lot of eyebrows within the landowning units of Sanasana. Since Mr Dakuidreketi is the main developer, we are concerned that all decisions made by the board would be made to see that the project went ahead regardless of whether our rights were sacrificed," [Tora] said.

"Even though NLTB is our trustee, it seems that it is pushing the company's interests," said Mr Tora.

"We have some grievances with several works that the developers are carrying out so how do you expect us to trust that the board will address our concerns when the developer is sitting on the board," Mr Tora asked.

Attempts to contact Mr Dakuidreketi yesterday were unsuccessful.

But Mr Tabakanalagi said there was nothing to worry about because the board always fought for the rights and interests of landowners. He promised that no decision would be made in favor of the developers because Mr Dakuidreketi was a member of the board.

"You do not have to worry about Mr Dakuidreketi because that is our job to see that he carries out his duties properly. NLTB is always for the landowners and your rights and interests are always our priority," Mr Tabakanalagi said.

Although, in an interview by Fiji TV, former Public Service Commission C.E.O, Anare Jale had staked his reputation on the Natadola project and volunteered to take full responsibility for any criminal activity found within it; his interview raised more questions than answers. These revelations on APRIL Development and Natadola project, points out the magnitude of kick-backs from these dubious deals and the murky relationships between several statuary agencies within Fiji.

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