Court documents setting out charges against former Prime Minister and Speaker Lord Tu’ivakanō allege he was involved in illegal activities worth TP$416,391.84.
The court documents were addressed to ‘Eiki Tu’ivakanō (aka) Siaosi Ngalumoetutulu Kaho (aka) Siale ‘Ataongo Kaho.
They ordered Lord Tu’ivakanō to appear at the Fasi court on March 26 at 10am.
The documents were published by Kele’a newspaper this week. One of the documents alleged Lord Tu’ivakanō had received TP$199,408.94 on November 18, 2013 from Sien Lee and Ying Huang Lee while the king’s noble was the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It said the money was given to persuade him to act in their favour and that he allowed the issuance of documents which proved the holders were Tongan travellers.
According to the document, the application was lodged by ‘Isapela Sātua Tu’akoi with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Immigration Department.
As Kaniva News reported last year, Tu’akoi was one of 15 people listed by the Tonga National Reserve bank as being involved in suspicious money transfers.
The second court document alleged that Lord Tu’ivakanō secretly and illegally transferred money on November 29, 2013 in Nuku’alofa in breach of the laws regarding money laundering and bribery.
The document alleged he received TP$216,982.90 from the proceedings of serious criminal activity and attempted to hide it by depositing it in his housing loan account with BSP bank in Tonga.
As Kaniva News reported, Lord Tu’ivakanō was arrested on March 1 and was charged with making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport, perjury, acceptance of bribery and money laundering.
In 2014 Kaniva News revealed e-mails between staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which alleged Lord Tu’ivakanō had ignored King Tupou VI’s warning not to issue any more diplomatic passports to Chinese man Sien Lee.
According to the e-mails, Sien Lee was a close friend of the Late Queen Mother.
The charges against Lord Tu’ivakanō are the result of an investigation pushed by the Pohiva government since 2015.
As we reported at the time, the king assented to the establishment of a royal commission to investigate the passport scandal in 2014.
However the Tu’ivakanō government delayed establishing the commission and wanted to make another proposal to the king.
Meanwhile, another document had been served on the Minister of Internal Affairs and her husband, the former Minister of Infrastructure ‘Etuate Lavulavu.
It said the Lavulavus had been charged after they allegedly committed crimes on August 2014 using forged documents contrary to section 172 of the Criminal Act to support an application by the Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute to obtain supplementary government funding to assist students.
Police said the Lavulavus were charged after the Auditor General’s office said hundreds of students supposedly attending their private school could not be identified and that the Institute should repay TP$553,800 to the Technical Vocational Education and Training fund (TVET).
They were ordered to appear at Fasi court on March 26 at 10am.