Hon Lavulavu denies he told mechanical supervisor to fake TP$1 million valuation, threatens legal action

    Tonga’s Former Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu, has denied claims by the Ministry’s Senior Mechanical Supervisor, Maile Niulala,  that he ordered him to falsify a valuation of heavy machinery.

    In a letter to the Tongan media, Niulala said Lavulavu demanded that he alter his original valuation of heavy machinery the government intended to purchase from TP$100,000 to TP$1 million.

    The strife between Lavulavu and the MOI’s  mechanical supervisor is the latest in a series of hurdles faced by the former Minister of Infrastructure, including an impeachment attempt, the loss of his ministerial position and accusations of corruption.

    Hon. Lavulavu claimed he had never talked to Niulala about a report to be submitted to him as Minister and never discussed anything about Tomifa Paea’s eight heavy pieces of machinery.

    The former minister demanded Niulala retract his letter to the media and apologise within five days or face legal action.

    In a letter to the Minister of Finance Hon. ‘Aisake Eke dated November 19, 2015 Niulala told the minister he was “instructed” by Hon Lavulavu to assess the financial value of the machinery.

    He said when he found out only one of the machines was still working, he calculated their value as less than TP$100,000.

    Niulala claimed he reported his finding to Hon. Lavulavu, but was then told by the Minister to do another assessment and increase the total value to TP$1 million pa’anga.

    “I obeyed and did the valuation again and made a new submission to a value of TP$1,007,000,” Niulala said in his letter.

    Niulala told Hon. Eke he was not satisfied with what had happened as he was later blamed by the Tongan media.

    Hon Lavulavu’s response

    Hon. Lavulavu denied that he told Niulala to revalue the machinery and increase their financial value from TP$100,000 to TP$1 million.

    In a letter sent to Kaniva News this morning (Sunday, January 10) Hon. Lavulavu, who is now Minister of Tourism, demanded that Niulala immediately stop “defaming” him.

    He said Niulala has publicly discredited his family and the Tongan government.

    Hon. Lavulavu demanded Niulala correct what he had written to the Finance Minister within five days. If not, he would take legal action against him.

    “I would like to inform you that what you have written to the Hon. Minister of Finance claiming I demanded you alter the financial valuation of the Vava’u Construction’s heavy machinery from TP$100,000 to TP$1 million is lying and misleading against  the Ministry of Infrastructure, Government of Tonga and the people of the nation,” Hon. Lavulavu wrote in Tongan.

    In his letter Lavulavu claimed that on August 4, 2015 Niulala  wrote an Internal Memo to the Ministry’s CEO informing him he had assessed all eight heavy machines as having a total valuation was TP$1,007,000.

    Hon. Lavulavu told Niulala that in the last paragraph of his memo to the CEO he recommended the machinery and said he had assessed them and they were all in good conditions.

    Hon. Lavulavua said the Ministry approved Niulala’s recommendation on August 6, 2015 and was prepared to be processed through the procurement committee.

    Hon. Lavulavu claimed that Niulala also wrote to the owner of Vava’u Construction and told him about his valuation of the machinery on August 10 and said he would submit his report to the CEO.

    A year of strife

    Hon. Lavulavu has been involved in a series of legal and political struggles in the past 12  months.

    He escaped a Parliamentary impeachment last year after he was accused of wrongly using his power to approve works in Vava’u without going through the government’s procurement committee.

    He continued for a time as Minister of Infrastructure and Minister for Tourism in Hon Pohiva’s government. However, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva stripped him of the Infrastructure portfolio and imposed a financial penalty on him.

    Towards the end of 2015 the Vava’u 16 MP was taken to court by failed parliamentary candidate Dr Viliami Uasike Latu.

    Dr Latu accused Lavulavu of corruption and illegal campaigning in Tonga’s 2014 General Election.

    The Vava’u Supreme Court will deliver its judgement on the case next month.

    The main points

    • Tonga’s former Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu, has denied claims by the Ministry’s Senior Mechanical Supervisor, Maile Niulala, that he ordered him to falsify a valuation of heavy machinery.
    • In a letter to the Tongan media, Niulala said Lavulavu demanded that he alter his original valuation of heavy machinery the government intended to purchase from TP$100,000 to TP$1 million.
    • The strife between Lavulavu and the MOI’s mechanical supervisor is the latest in a series of hurdles faced by the former Minister of Infrastructure, including an impeachment attempt, the loss of his ministerial position and accusations of corruption.
    • Lavulavu has demanded Niulala correct what he had written to the Finance Minister within five days. If not, he would take legal action against him.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Kuo faka’ikai’i ‘e he Minisitā ki muʻa ʻa e Puleʻanga Tongá ki he Ngaahi Ngāue Lalahí ʻa e tukuakiʻi kuo fai ʻe Maile Niulala ko e Supavaisa Fakamekānika Māʻolunga ʻa e potungāué naʻá ne fekauʻi ia ke kākaaʻi hono fakamahuʻingaʻi ʻo e ngaahi mīsini mamafá.

      ʻI ha tohi ki he mitia Tongá ne pehē ai ʻe Niulala ne fekauʻi ia ʻe Lavulavu ke ne liliu mei he paʻanga $1 kilú ke ʻalu hake ʻo $1 miliona ʻa hono fakamahuʻingaʻi e ngaahi mīsini mamafá ni ʻa ia ne ʻi ai e fokotuʻutuʻu ʻa e puleʻangá ke ne fakatau

      Ko e taututuʻu ko ʻeni ʻi he vā ʻo Lavulavu mo Supavaisa Fakamekānika ʻa e MOI ko e fakamuimui taha ia ʻi he ngaahi hētolo kuo fehangahangai mo e Minisitā ki Muʻa ʻa e Ngaahi Langa Lalahi kau ai ʻa hono feinga fakaʻilo faka-Fale Alea, mole hono lakanga minisitaá mo hano tukuakiʻi ki he ngāue halaʻaki ʻa hono mafaí.

      ʻOku taukaveʻi ʻe Lavulavu ne teʻeki tuʻotaha haʻane talanoa mo Niulala ki ha lipooti ke fakahū ange kiate ia pea ne teʻeki tuʻotaha ke na talanoa ki ha meʻa fekauʻaki mo e ngaahi mīsini mamafa ʻe valu ʻa Tomifā Paeá.

      ʻOku fiemaʻu ʻe Lavulavu ke kole fakamolemole ʻa Niulala mo fakafoki ʻene fakamatala kuo fai he mitiá fekauʻaki mo e ngaahi mīsini ʻe valu ʻa Tomifā Paeá.

      ʻI ha tohi ʻi he ʻaho 19 ʻo Nōvema 2015 ne fakahā ai ʻe Niulala ki he minisitā paʻangá naʻe fekauʻi ia ʻe Lavulavu ke ne vakaiʻi e mahuʻinga fakapaʻanga ʻo e ʻū mīsiní.

      Pehē ʻe Niulalá ne ne ʻilo ai ko e mīsini pe ʻe taha ʻoku kei ngāué peá ne fakamahuʻingaʻi kotoa leva e ʻū mīsini ni siʻi hifo pe he $1 Kilu.

      Ne taukave ʻa Niulala ʻo pehē ne fakahū atu ʻene līpooti ko iá kia Lavulavú ka ne fakahā ange ʻe ia ke toe ʻai mai ha līpooti ʻe taha pea tuku hake mahuʻingá ke ʻi he $1 milioná.

      Ne fakahā ʻe Niulala kia Eke ʻa e ʻikai ke ne fiemālie ki he meʻa ko ʻeni ne hokó he ne iku tukuakiʻi ai hono hingoá ʻo na he mitiá.

      Kuo fakaʻikaiʻi kotoa ʻeni ʻe Lavulavu ʻi haʻane tohi ne ʻomi ki he Kanivá he ʻaho ni Sāpate ko hono 10 peá ne pehē kuo hanga ʻe Niulala ʻo fakangalikoviʻi ʻa hono fāmilí mo e Puleʻanga Tongá pehē ki he kakai ʻo e fonuá.

      Kuo fiemaʻu ai ʻe Lavulavau ke kole fakamolemole ʻa Niulala mo fakatonutonu ʻene ngaahi fakamatala ne ʻave ki he minisitā paʻangá.

      Kuo pehē ʻ e Lavulavu ko Niulala pe ne ne faʻu ʻa e Tohi Fakalotoʻi Potungāue ki he CEO ʻo e MOI ʻo ne poupouʻi ʻa e fakatau mīsiné mo ne pehē ne ne ʻosi sivi pea ʻoku ʻi he tuʻunga lelei kotoa.

      Pehē ʻe Lavulavu foki ne toe tohi ʻa Niulala ki he ʻouna ʻo e Vavaʻu Construction Tomifā Paea ʻo fakahā ki ai ʻa e ola ʻene fakamahuʻinga ne faí mo fakahā ʻe fakahū atu ʻene lipooti ki he Potungāué.

      Ko e konga ʻeni e tohi ʻa Lavulavu kia Niulalá ʻa ia ne ʻomi ki he Kanivá.

      ‘Oku ou fie fakamanatu atu pe kiate koe ‘a e ngaahi me’a ko ‘eni ‘i he ‘aho 4 ‘o ‘Akosi 2015 na’a ke tohi ai ha Internal Memo ki he CEO ‘o e MOI (Potungaue Ngaahi Ngaue Lalahi) ‘o fakaha atu ai ki he CEO kuo ke ‘osi sivi mo vakai’i kakato ‘a e ngaahi me’a ngaue kotoa ‘e 8 ko ‘eni pea ko honau ngaahi mahu’inga fakataautaha ‘ena mo e mahu’inga fakakatoa ko e T$1,007,000.00 pea ‘i ho’o palakalafi faka’osi na’a ke pehe ai.

      Ko e ngaahi me’angaue kotoa ko ‘eni kuou ‘osi sivi mo vakai’i ‘oku lelei mo faka’ofo’ofa hono ngaahi tu’unga fakamisini mo hono mahu’inga fakapa’anga pea ‘oku ou fakaongoongolelei’i atu ke tali ‘a e mahu’inga ko ‘eni.

      Pea na’e tali ia mo fakamo’oni hingoa ki ai e CEO ‘o e MOI (Potungaue) he ‘aho 6 ‘o Akosi 2015 ke hoko atu ki ai e ngaue ‘a e va’a ‘o e Procurement. Ko koe Mr. Maile Niulala na’a ke fakamo’oni hingoa he Internal Memo ko ‘eni ‘i ho’o lakanga ko e Senior Mechanical Supervisor. Pe ko e Pule Lahi ki he Va’a Fakamisini mo Sivi Me’alele ‘a e Potungaue.

      ‘I he ‘aho 10 ‘o Akosi 2015 na’a ke ‘ave ai ho’o tohi fakamahu’inga’i ‘o e ngaahi me’a ngaue ko ‘eni mo hono fakaikiiki ki he Pule ‘o e Vava’u Construction ‘o fakaha ange ki ai ko ho’o fakamahu’inga kakato ‘ena hili ho’o sivi mo vakai’i faka’auliliki he meimei ‘uike nai ‘e ua ki mu’a pea ke toki fakahoko ho’o lipooti mo ho’o tohi ki he CEO ‘o e MOI.

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