Supreme Court overturns appeal, orders former Customs Ministry CEO to be extradited to Fiji

    The Supreme Court has ordered that Kulu ‘Anisi Bloomfield, the former CEO of Tonga’s Ministry of Customs and Revenue, be extradited to Fiji to face trial.

    Bloomfield, from Neiafu, resigned from his position to stand for  the Vava’u 15 constituency in the November 2017 election.

    He was Head of Secretariat Oceania Customs Organisation based in Suva when the crimes of which he is accused were committed.

    The Fijian government had asked that Bloomfield be returned to Fiji to be tried for the alleged offences which occurred between 2011 and 2014.

    A warrant for his arrest was issued in the Magistrate Court of Fiji on March 27, 2018.

    He was accused of using a credit card belonging to the Oceania Customs Organisation to make unauthorized purchases with intent to dishonestly obtain a sum of $161,506.66 from the OCO.

    He was also charged with dishonestly obtaining computer equipment belonging to the Oceania Custom Organisation worth $17,757.77.

    The application for extradiction was heard before the Magistrate’s Court on February 17, 2020. The Principal Magistrate ruled that Bloomfield be returned to Fiji for trial only on the theft charge.

    He held that the charge of dishonesty could not be proceeded with because the alleged offence was committed at a time when the accused had diplomatic immunity because of his position with the Oceania Custom Organisation.

    Bloomfield appealed against the ruling on the grounds that he also had diplomatic immunity at the time the alleged offence was committed.

    At the same time the Tongan government appealed the decision on the grounds that the matter of diplomatic immunity was matter for the court in Fiji.

    The government argued that all that the Magistrate only had to be satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to commit the accused for trial.

    Judge Niu said the Magistrate’s decision regarding diplomatic immunity was wrong.

    “I uphold the appeal of the Crown and I order that the accused is committed to be returned to Fiji to be tried on both the two offences of which he has been charged,” the Judge said.

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