Tongasat’s appeal aimed at hindering attempts to sue former Prime Ministers, says Pōhiva

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva said he believed an appeal by Tongasat against a Supreme Court ruling over the illegal payment of millions of dollars was an attempt to hinder attempts to sue those involved and to force Princess Pilolevu to pay back the money.

Parliament tabled a submission by the government early this month to sue ex Prime Ministers Lord Sevele and Lord Tu’ivakanō for their involvement in the illegal payment of TP$90 million.

Hon. Pōhiva has revealed there was also a plan to lodge additional legal action to force Princess Pilolevu and Tongasat to pay back the money.

However, he said he had discussed this with his counsel, Dr Rodney Harrison, and there was concern that the money could not be recovered and it would be very hard to investigate it.

Hon. Pōhiva told Kaniva news in an exclusive interview on Monday in Auckland that Tongasat’s appeal would not change Lord Chief Justice Paulsen’s decision.

“They are free to appeal and that was part of the judicial process, but I don’t think it would affect the Supreme Court’s decision,” the Prime Minister said.

Hon. Pohiva said he had read the decision repeatedly and marvelled at how Judge Paulsen looked at all evidences and arguments before he declared that the payments of the money made by the government of Tonga to Tongasat was unlawful within the  meaning  of  the Public  Finance  Management  Act.

Tongasat, which is also known as The Friendly Islands Satellite Communications Ltd. (Tongasat), filed a notice of appeal against the Supreme Court decision in August.

Its counsel, W.C.Edwards, then filed the appeal in the Court of Appeal of Tonga on 16 October.

The appellants said they had fresh evidence from witnesses, including former Ministers of Finance  Lord Matoto, Dr ‘Aisake Eke, Sunia Fili and former Chief Secretary to Cabinet ‘Aholotu Palu.

Declaration

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

He said the first tranche payment of US$24.45 million in aid  grant funds  received by the Kingdom from  the People’s Republic of China on  September 4, 2008 was a grant and therefore public money within the  meaning  of  the Public  Finance  Management  Act.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, US$20,985,667 of the first 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 judge said.

“The payment of US$20,985,667 of the first 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 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 payment or any part thereof under either the Agency Agreement or the Agency Termination Agreement.

“The second 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 was a ‘grant’ and accordingly public money within the meaning of the PFMA.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, the second 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 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 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 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

  • Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said he believed an appeal by Tongasat against a Supreme Court ruling over the illegal payment of millions of dollars was an attempt to hinder attempts to sue those involved and to force Princess Pilolevu to pay back the money.
  • Parliament tabled a submission by the government early this month to sue ex Prime Ministers Lord Sevele and Lord Tu’ivakano for their involvement in the illegal payment of TP$90 million.

For more information

Tonga Government decision to sue former PMs in Tongasat $39m illegal payments revealed

1 COMMENT

  1. Kuo pehē ‘e he ‘Eiki Palēmia ‘Akilisi Pōhiva ‘oku tui ia ko e tangi kuo fai ‘e he Tongasat ki he tu’utu’uni ‘a e fakamaau’anga lahi’ ‘i he totongi ta’efakalao ‘o ha pa’anga ‘e laui miliona ko e feinga pe ke fakatuai’i e ngaahi ngāue kuo kamata’i ke faka’ilo ‘a kinautolu ne kaunga ki he fo’i ngāue ta’efakalao’ ni pea mo mo e palani fakamālohi’i fakalao ‘a Pilinisesi Pilolevu ke totongi fakafoki mai ‘a e pa’anga’.
    Kuo ‘osi fakahū atu foki ki Fale Alea e fokotu’u ‘a e pule’anga’ ke faka’ilo ‘a e ongo Palēmia ki mu’a ko Looti Sevele mo Looti Tu’ivakanō ko ‘ena kaunga ki he ngāue ta’efakalao’ ni ‘o mole ai e $90 miliona ‘a e pule’anga’ mo e kakai’.
    Kuo fakahā foki ‘e Pōhiva ne ‘i ai mo e palani ki ha toe faka’ilo kehe ke fakafoki mai ‘a e pa’anga’ hili hono fakahā ‘e he fakamaau lahi ne ‘ikai fakalao e totongi ‘o e pa’anga tokoni ko eni mei Siaina ki he Tongasat.
    Ka ‘i he’ene me’a’ ‘oku mahino pe ‘e faingata’a ke toe ma’u ‘a e pa’anga’ ni ia.
    ‘Oku toe tangi foki ‘a e Tongsat ia pea na’e fakahu atu ia ki he Fakamaau’anga Tangi’ he uike kuo ‘osi’.
    ‘Oku nau fokotu’u atu ki he fakamaau’anga tangi ke nau toe fanongo mu’a ki ha’anau kau fakamo’oni fo’ou ‘a ia ko e kau minisita pa’anga ‘eni ki mu’a e tolu ko Looti Matoto, Dr ‘Aisake Eke mo Sunia Fili pea kau ki ai ‘a Sekelitali Pule mo Sekelitali ki he Kapineti ko ‘Aholotu Palu. ‘Oku tui ‘a e Tongasat ko e kau fakamo’oni fo’ou ko ‘eni te nau liua e tu’utu’uni ‘a e fakamaau lahi’.
    Ka kia Pohiva na’a ne fakaha ‘e ia ‘oku tau’atāina pe tangi ia ko ‘eni ka ‘oku ‘ikai ke ne tui ‘e toe le’ei ‘e he ngaahi fakamo’oni’ fo’ou ia ko ‘eni ‘a e tu’utu’uni kuo fai.
    ‘I hono tuku mai ‘e he fakamaau’anga lahi ‘a e fakamatala tekilaleisoni pe fakahā fakamahino e tu’unga ‘o e totongi ta’efakalao’ ni ‘i he mahina Sepitema’ na’e pehē ai ‘e ‘Eiki Fakamaau Lahi Owen Paulsen na’e tui ia ki he ngaahi poini ‘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.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here