Police charge Lord Tu’ivakanō with passport offences, money laundering and bribery

Faka'ilo 'a Looti Tu'ivakanō 'e he kau Polisi ki he hia fekau'aki mo e paasipooti, fetuku 'o ha pa'anga 'uli pehē ki he tali 'o ha totongi fakafufū. Mahino ko e konga pe 'eni 'o ha fakatotolo 'a ha va'a fakatotolo makehe 'a e polisi ne fokotu'u 'e he pule'anga 'o 'Akilisi Pōhiva ke nau fakatotolo'i 'a e ngaahi tukuaki'i 'oku ngāue hala'aki 'a e paasipooti Tonga.

The king’s noble and former Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakanō has been charged with passport offences, money laundering and bribery.

As Kaniva news reported this morning Police arrested the former Speaker of Parliament yesterday March 1.

“Lord Tu’ivakanō has been charged with numerous crimes including; making a False Statement for the purpose of obtaining a Passport, Perjury, Acceptance of Bribery and Money Laundering,” Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell said.

As we reported last year, Lord Tu’ivakanō and his wife Joyce Robin Kaho have been listed by the Tonga National Reserve bank as being involved in suspicious money transfers.

It followed with a claim by a former staff at Parliament that Lord Tu’ivakanō used parliamentary staff to improperly transferred money overseas. The noble denied it.

“If that was illegal you know which place to take it up with. Anyone in the office of the Parliament is free to do the same thing,” Lord Tu’ivakanō said in response to the former staff.

Passport saga

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva  told the House during a debate in 2013, while he was leader of Opposition and Lord Tu’ivakanō was Prime Minister, that he had information that Tongan blank passports were being abused.

He described the mishandling of the Tongan blank passports as a “net that was thrown outside the circle of the Tongan authorities”.

In 2014 Kaniva News revealed e-mails between staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which alleged Lord Tu’ivakanō 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 is a close friend of the Late Queen Mother.

At the time, the former Auditor General, who is now Minister of Finance, Hon. Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told us Tonga’s passport scandal was one of  the two biggest he had come across in the previous three years.

This morning the Police Commissioner said although he was confined by what he could say publicly, he took the opportunity to thank and commend the Passport Taskforce for their methodical and professional investigation.

As criminal charges are now before a Court of Law no further comments will be made at this time. The Passport investigation continues.”

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