Supreme Court issues declaration on legal status of main points in Tongasat case

'Oku 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

The Supreme Court has issued a declaration regarding the long running legal battle over the Tongan government’s payment to Tongasat of millions of dollars of Chinese money.

As Kaniva Tonga reported last month, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of ‘Akilisi Pohiva and the Public Service Association who had fought a five year battle against Tongasat over what it claimed were illegal payments to the company.

The Supreme Court ruled that the payment of the money to tens of  millions of dollars of Chinese money to Princess Pilolevu’s satellite company was illegal.

Lord Chief Justice Paulsen has now issued a declaration on the legal status of the  main points of the claims made in the court case.

The judge said a declaratory judgment was a formal  statement  by  a court  pronouncing  upon the existence or non-existence of a legal state of affairs.

He said the remedy of a declaration of rights was ordinarily granted as final relief in a proceeding. It was intended to state the rights of the parties with respect to a particular matter with precision and in a binding way.

Lord Chief Justice Paulsen declared his agreement with the following points raised by Dr Rodney Harrison, QC, on behalf of the Public service association and ‘Akilisi Pohiva:

“The first tranche payment of US$24.45 million in aid  grant funds  received by the first defendant (the Kingdom) from  the People’s Republic of China on  September 4, 2008 (the first tranche payment) was a ‘grant’ and accordingly ‘public money’ within the  meaning  of  the Public  Finance  Management  Act,” the judge said.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, US$20,985,667 of the first tranche payment was paid to or for the benefit of Tongasat pursuant to a purported agreement between the then Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele  and Tongasat.

“The payment of US$20,985,667 of the first tranche payment to or for the benefit of Tongasat was expended in breach of section 9 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“To the extent that the first tranche payment was expended to satisfy pre-existing liabilities of Tongasat that expenditure was in breach of section 30 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“The purported agreement between the then Prime Minister and Tongasat  was in breach  of the PFMA and  in excess of  Dr Sevele’s lawful powers and authority as Prime Minister and accordingly unlawful  and invalid.

“Tongasat was not entitled to payment of the first tranche payment or any part thereof under either the Agency Agreement or the Agency Termination Agreement.

“The second tranche payment of US$25.450 million in aid grant funds received by the Kingdom from the People’s Republic of China on June 9, 2011 (the second tranche payment) was a ‘grant’ and accordingly ‘public money’ within the meaning of the PFMA.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, the second tranche payment was paid in its entirety to or for the benefit of Tongasat pursuant to a purported agreement between the then Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele and Tongasat.

“The payment of the second tranche payment in its entirety to or for the benefit of Tongasat was expended in breach of section 9 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“To the extent that the first tranche payment was expended to satisfy pre-existing liabilities of Tongasat that expenditure was in breach of section 30 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“The purported agreement between the then Prime Minister and Tongasat  referred to in para 8 above was both in breach of the PFMA  and  in excess of  Dr Sevele’ s lawful powers and authority as Prime Minister and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“Tongasat was not entitled to payment of the second tranche payment or any part thereof under either the Agency Agreement or the Agency Termination Agreement.”

The main points

  • The Supreme Court has issued a declaration regarding the long running legal battle over the Tongan government’s payment to Tongasat of millions of dollars of Chinese money.
  • As Kaniva Tonga reported last month, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of ‘Akilisi Pohiva and the Public Service Association which had fought a five year battle against Tongasat over what it claimed were illegal payments to the company.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the payment of the money to tens of millions of dollars of Chinese money to Princess Pilolevu’s satellite company was illegal.

For more information

Tongasat case “of national importance” says judge as he declares payments were illegal

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kuo tuku mai ‘e he Fakamaau’anga Lahi ha fakamatala fakahāhā (declaration) pe ‘e ngāue’aki heni ‘a e faka-Tonga ko e tekilaleisoni ‘o ‘uhinga ko hono fakamahino ia ‘e he fakamaau ‘a ‘ene tui tatau mo e taukapo’ ‘a ia ko, ‘Akilisi Pōhiva mo e PSA fekau’aki mo e ola ‘o hono hopo’i ‘o hono totongi ‘e he pule’anga Tonga’ ki he Tongasat ‘a e pa’anga tokoni ‘ofa ‘e lau miliona mei Siaina’.

    Hangē ko e lipooti ‘a e Kaniva Tonga’ he māhina kuo ‘osi’, ne kau ‘a e Fakamaau Lahi’ ia mo ‘Akilisi mo e PSA ‘o ne tali ‘ena tukuaki’i na’e ta’efakalao ‘a e totongi pa’anga’ ni.

    Pea ko hono tuku mai leva ‘eni ‘e he fakamaau’anga ‘a e fakamatala tekileleisoni pe fakahā fakamahino e tu’unga ‘o e totongi ni.

    Pehē ‘e ‘Eiki Fakamaau Lahi Owen Paulsen ko e fakamatala fakahāhaa’ pe tekilaleisoni’ ko ha fakamatala fōmolo ‘a e fakamaau’anga’ ‘o ne fakahā ‘a e tu’unga fakalao ‘o e fakafekiki fakalao ne fai.

    Na’a’ ne pehē ko e founga ko ē ke fakahoko ‘aki ‘a hono fakahoko ‘o ha tekilaleisoni ne tupunga hono fai ke talaki faka’osi e tūkunga ‘o e faka’ilo na’e fai. Ne taumu’a ke fakahā e ngaahi totonu ‘a e ngaahi fa’ahi’ ki ha me’a mahino ‘aki ‘a e ‘ai mahino pea mo e founga kuopau kef ai.

    Na’e fakahā leva ‘e Paulsen ‘a ‘ene tui ‘ana ki he ngaahi poini ko ‘eni ne ‘ohake ‘e Dr Rodney Harrison ‘a ia na’a’ ne fakafofonga’i ‘a e PSA mo ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.

    ‘A ia ko ‘eni:

    Ko e $25.45 miliona ‘Amelika ‘a e ‘uluaki totongi’ ko e pa’anga tokoni ‘ofa ia ne ma’u ‘e he taukapo ‘uluaki ‘a ia ko e pule’anga Tonga mei he Lepapilika ‘o e Kakai ‘o Siaina’ ‘i Sepitema ‘aho 4 ‘o e 2008. Ko e totongi ‘uluaki’ ni ko e pa’anga tokoni ‘ofa pea ko ia ai, ko e pa’anga ia ‘a e kakai’ ‘o fakatatau ki he ‘uhinga ‘o e tu’utu’uni ki hono tokanga’i ‘o e pa’anga ‘a e kakai pe ko e Public Finance Management Act pe PFMA.

    Hili hono ma’u ‘e he pule’anga fakatu’i’ na’e totongi leva ai ‘a e pa’anga ia ‘e $20,985,667 ‘Amelika ki he Tongasat ‘o fakatatau ki ha aleapau ‘a Dr Feleti Sevele mo e Tongasat.

    Ko e totongi ‘o e pa’anga ‘Amelika ‘e $20,985,667 ‘i he konga ‘uluaki ki he pe ki he lelei ‘a e Tongasat na’a’ ne maumau’i ‘a e sekisoni 9 ‘o e lao ki hono leva’i e pa’anga ‘a e kakai’ pe PFMA pea ko ia ai na’e ta’efakalao mo ta’e’aonga ia.

    Ko e aleapau ko ‘eni ‘oku pehē ne fai he vā ‘o e palēmia he ‘aho ko ia’ mo e Tongasat na’a’ ne maumau’i ‘a e lao ki hono tokanga’i e pa’anga ‘a e kakai’ pea na’e hope atu ia ‘i he mafai fakalao ‘o e Palēmia’ pea ko ia ai na’e ta’efakalao pea ta’e’aonga ia.

    Na’e ‘ikai ha totonu ‘a e Tongasat ke totongi kiate ia ‘a e totongi ‘uluaki pe ko ha konga ‘o ia tatau ai pe pe

    ko e ‘uhinga ki he aleapau ne ui ko e Agency Agreement pe ko e Agency Termination Agreement.

    Ko e totongi hono ua’ ko e pa’anga ‘Amelika ‘e $25.450 miliona ko e pa’anga tokoni ‘ofa mei Siaina ma’a e pule’anga fakatu’i ‘o Tonga ’i he ‘aho 9 ‘o Sune 2011. Ko e pa’anga ko ia’ ko e pa’anga tokoni ‘ofa pea ko ia ai ko e pa’anga ia ‘a e kakai’ ‘o fakatatau ki he ‘uhinga ‘o e PFMA.

    Hili hono ma’u e pa’anga’ ni ‘e he pule’anga fakatu’i, na’e totongi leva ‘a e konga hono ua’ kotoa ki he Tongasat ‘o fakatatau ai pe ‘eni ki he aleapau ne fai ‘e Dr Feleti Sevele mo e Tongasat.

    Na’e maumau’i ‘e he totongi ko ‘eni ‘a e lao ki he PFMA sekisoni 9 pea ko ia ai ne ta’efakalao pea ta’e’aonga hono founga’.

    Ko e pehē ko ia ko e totongi ‘uluaki na’e fai ko’euhi ko e mo’ua ‘o e Tongasat, ne pehē ‘e he fakamāu’ ko e fakamole ko ia’ na’a’ ne maumau’i e sekisoni 30 ‘o e PFMA pea ko ia ai na’e ta’efakalao mo ta’e’aonga ia.

    Ko e aleapau ko ia ne fai ‘i he va ‘o e ‘Eiki Palemia ‘o e ‘aho ko ia’ mo e Tongasat ‘oku hā ‘i he palakalafi 8 ‘i ‘olunga ne ne fakatou maumau’i ‘a e lao ki he PFMA pea hope atu ia he mafai fakalao ‘o Dr Sevele’ mo hono mafai ko e palēmia pea ko ia ai ne ta’efakalao pea toe ta’e’aonga ia.

    Na’e ‘ikai ha totonu ‘e taha ‘a e Tongasat ke totongi ange kiate ia ‘a e totongi hono ua pe konga ‘o e totongi mai ko ‘eni hono ua mei Siaina’ ‘o tatau pe ‘i he aleapau ne ui ko e Agency Agreement pe ko e Agency Termination Agreement.”

  2. Koe Doctor a Sevele oku ne osi iloi pe me’a kotoa ke fai ….
    Pea teu ui ae fehalaaki ko eni
    Koe hia fai ilo
    Pe koe kaiha’a he taimi ‘aho la’a lelei
    ‘E kehe ia mo ha taha ta’e Ako tena makatu’unga kehekehe pe .

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