PM Tu’ivakanō, Hon Edwards and Princess Pilolevu taken to court

Tonga MP ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has launched a legal action against the Prime Minister of Tonga together with Princess Pilolevu and Hon Clive Edwards the  Minister of Law for an alleged unlawful transference of  US$26 Million government money made to the Tongasat company on the 20th of May 2011.

According to Tongan Newspaper Keleʻa,  the notice of proceeding served says that the Prime Minister has misappropriated government money by pressing on the former Finance Minister, Hon Sūnia Fili to pay Tongasat the $18.45 Millions without deducting the 50% stipulated by the contract made between the government and the Princess’s satellite company to stay at treasury as government’s share.

Document says that the Government has an agreement with the Tongasat on the 4th of August 2011 that, “The proceeds from the sale will be split 50/50 between the Government of Tonga and Tongasat”.

The Prime Minister responded in a press release last November that there was another recent contract agreement made between his government and the Tongasat and that new agreement has overruled the 50/50 percent deal made previously.

When he was requested by the people’s Parliament Representatives for a copy of that new contract he declined it saying it was “confidential” the newspaper said.

A letter obtained by People’s Representative, written by the Secretary for Information & Communications, Mr Paula Ma’u to the Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano regarding this payout suggested that the payment was illegal.

The legal proceeding served mentioned that Lord Tu’ivakanō’s direction for the payout was processed without the approval of the Cabinet and had not been gone through the Parliament.

Tonga’s constitution clause 19 says that, “no money shall be paid out of the Treasury nor borrowed nor debts contracted by the Government but by the prior vote of the Legislative Assembly.”

The government of Lord Tu’ivakanō in its response last year when the matter was raised by the media pointed its figure at the former government of Prime Minister Feleti Sevele saying that it was Sevele’s government decision to pay Tongasat US$25.45 million but it was only made effective in 2011 when the current government came into power.

The money was said to be paid from a grant of $75 Million dollars from China.

Princess Pilolevu and Hon Clive Edwards have been charged for their invlovement in receiving the money.

The trio are due to have their first appearance at Magistrate court this Thursday 28th of February.

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