Saneem refers NFP leader to FICAC for breach

The Fijian Elections Office has referred National Federation Party leader Prof Biman Prasad to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem said this was done in relation to donations by Prof Prasad to the NFP in 2016 and 2017 which exceeded the maximum amount allowable by law for any person in a year.

Mr Saneem said based on information provided by Prof Prasad and the NFP, the total donations ascertained so far amounted to $28,252.

He said they had notified Prof Prasad through a letter the findings of the registrar and that necessary action would be taken.

Mr Saneem said instead of Prof Prasad’s lawyers producing a substantive reply, he said they demanded the registrar seek further clarification from his firm to “avoid both embarrassment and legal consequences of any retraction of your proposed complaint to FICAC”.

He said in another correspondence, the lawyers warned they would caution the Registrar of Political Parties regarding any media releases or other actions taken without any verification.

“It is in the genuine public interest to be informed of any purported breaches of the law that has been identified by the registrar and has been referred to FICAC for investigation,” Mr Saneem said. “The registrar has consistently issued such brief statements to uphold the public expectations.

“The FEO (Fijian Elections Office) has referred Hon Prasad to FICAC and as has been the practice of the FEO, we issued a media release briefly outlining what Hon Prasad had been referred to FICAC for, and the particular section that the registrar found Hon Prasad to have breached, together with a brief detail on the basis for which the registrar felt there was a probable breach of the law.”

Under Section 22(2) of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act, any person who is a Fiji citizen or a former Fiji citizen shall not make any political donation to a political party or to a candidate for election to Parliament of an amount exceeding $10,000 in any one year (whether to one or more registered political parties or candidates).