Lavulavus granted permission to seek judicial review of Auditor Generals’ actions

Faka’atā ‘e he fakamaau lahi’ Laki Niu ‘a e ongo Lavulavu ke faile hano ‘eke’i fakalao e founga ngāue ‘a e ‘Atita Seniale’ hili ‘eni hono faka’ilo kinaua ki he kākā ke ma’u ha pa’anga laui Kilu mei he Potungāue Ako’ ‘a ia ‘oku fakafou he Technical Vocational Education and Training fund hili hano sivi ‘e he ‘ātita pe na'e ngāue totonu'aki 'a e pa’anga me’a’ofa ‘a e pule’anga’ ki he ‘apiako Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute. Ko e ‘apiako ‘eni ‘a e ongo Lavulavu’. Na’e fakakikihi’i ‘eni ‘e he ‘Atita Seniale’ ‘o pehē kuo loa ‘e ‘osi ‘a e taimi ne tonu ke faile ai ‘e he ongo Lavulavu' ha ‘eke peheni pea ne tui ki ai ‘a Fakamaau Lahi Niu. Ka ne toe pehē ‘e Niu ne ‘ikai ha fu’u maumau ‘e hoko ki he ‘Atita’ mo e Potungāue’ he vaa'itaimi ko ia' pea ne fai tukuingata pe ongo Lavulavu’ ke faile ‘a e tangi ko ‘eni kuo ne tali’. ‘Oku fiema’u ‘a e fakamaau totonu ‘i he keisi ko ‘eni, ko Laki ia.

The Supreme Court has given permission for the owners of a private school charged with fraud after an inspection by the Auditor General’s office to apply for a judicial review.

The review will look at the actions of the audit team and the issuance by the Auditor General of a report in 2016.

As Kaniva news reported last year, the Auditor General’s office said hundreds of students supposedly attending the Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute   could not be identified and that the Institute should repay TP$553,800 to the Technical  Vocational Education and Training fund (TVET).

Police charged former cabinet minister Akosita Lavulavu and her husband ‘Etuate with using forged documents to support an application by the to obtain supplementary government funding to assist students at their private school.

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).

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva dismissed Akosita Lavulavu from cabinet in April 2018.

The auditor General’ office opposed the Lavulavu’s appeal for a review on the ground that no leave has been applied for or granted by this Court, and that even if it was applied for it was  well out of time because it is more than three months since the date of issue of the report on October 2016.

Judge Niu said the Lavulavu’ action was effectively an appeal for a judicial review presented as an ordinary civil action without any leave having applied for.

He said application for review had to be made within three months unless the court found there were good reason for extending that period.

“It is true that the plaintiffs have not properly sought the leave of the Court to file its application for judicial review of the defendant Auditor General’s action and action of his audit team, but no disadvantage or prejudice has been suffered by the defendant because the plaintiffs immediately and continuously pursued their dissatisfaction with the report right up to filing of their claim in this Court in January of this year,” Judge Niu said.

“It is in the interests of  justice that the application of the plaintiffs  for judicial review be heard by this Court and that leave be granted for them to do so.”

“Leave is granted  to  the plaintiffs  to  apply for  judicial review.”

The main points

  • The Supreme Court has given permission for the owners of a private school charged with fraud after an inspection by the Auditor General’s office to apply for a judicial review.
  • The review will look at the actions of the audit team and the issuance by the Auditor General of a report in 2018.

For more information

PM Pōhiva sacks Minister of Internal Affairs Akosita Lavulavu

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