As Tongasat case heads for Appeals Court, Former Minister claims Chinese money was intended for Princess’s company

    'E fai e hopo tangi 'a e Tongasat 'i 'Epeleli 'i he'enau kole ke liua 'e he fakamaau'anga Tangi' e tu'utu'uni 'a e 'Eiki Fakamaau Lahi 'i Sepitema ta'u kuo 'osi 'o pehē na'e ta'efakalao 'a hono totongi atu 'o e $90 miliona tokoni 'a Siaina ki Tonga' kia Pilinisesi Pilolevu mo e Tongasat. 'Oku kau he'enau taukave he tangi' ni 'enau pehē kuo toe 'i ai e 'ū fakamo'oni kuo nau ma'u pehē ko e pa'anga pe tokua 'eni ia ki he Tongasat. Ne 'osi tu'utu'uni e fakamaau lahi foki 'o pehē ko e pa'anga 'eni ki he kakai' pea na'e 'ikai ha totonu 'e taha ki ai 'a e Tongasat.

    Former Minister of Finance Sūnia Fili, who leaked the news of the unlawful transfer of Chinese money to Princess Pilolevu and her satellite company said part of the money was intended for Tongasat.

    Fili said while he was Minister of Finance he was given an agreement document which said the government of Tonga and Tongasat had agreed to split the TP$90 million 50 percent each after deducting taxes.

    He claimed it was up to the then Prime Minister to change the 50-50 percent agreement and pay Tongansat the whole lot.

    As Kaniva news reported in September last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the payment of  tens of  millions of dollars of Chinese grant money to Princess Pilolevu’s satellite company was illegal.

    The court said Tongasat was not entitled to the money.

    The judgement by Lord Chief Justice Paulsen  was in favour of the action brought by the Public Service Association (PSA), Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva and Kingdom of Tonga.

    All these payments were approved and paid  according to Tongasat’s requirement on May 11, 2012 while Fili was Tonga’s Finance Minister.

    It was reported at the time that Fili queried the then Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakanō about the payments.

    However, as Kaniva news reported in 2014, the government of Lord Tu’ivakanō said Fili was responsible for the payment made to Tongasat and if there was any doubt in his mind as to the legality of the arrangements made by the Sevele administration he should have sought legal advice from Crown Law before making the payment.

    Fili said he queried the Prime Minister over the payment and said that in his response Tu’ivakanō jokingly told him to pay it otherwise the princess would “bake them in the ‘umu (oven).”

    The illegal transference of the grant to Princess Pilolevu and her company was first reported by Kaniva Tonga News after Fili resigned, leaving the government for the Democratic Party in 2012.

    An appeal seeking to overturn last year’s judgement will be heard at the Court of Appeal in April.

    The main points

    • The former Minister of Finance who leaked the news of the unlawful transfer of a multi-million Chinese grant to Princess Pilolevu and her Tongasat company said the money was for Tongasat.
    • Sunia Fili said that while he was Minister of Finance he was given an agreement document which said the government of Tonga and Tongasat had agreed to split the $TP90 million 50 percent each after deducting taxes.

    For more information

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

    Top NZ lawyer to file action over Tongasat grant

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