Soane Ramanlal wanted by NZ authority over fraud charges

    An arrest warrant has been issued in New Zealand for 62-year-old Soane Ramanlal.

    Roger Pikia. Photo/Teara Wariver Iwi Trust

    He hasn’t been seen recently in Auckland where he has his own property in Epsom.

    Ramanlal has a warrant out for his arrest after being charged by the Serious Fraud Office but is believed to no longer be in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald reported.

    Ramanlal was Chief Executive Officer of Shoreline Communications, a company co-owned by his elder brother Josef Ramanlal and Late King George V while the king was Crown Prince Tupouto‘a.

    The company granted the exclusive right to provide the power to the government electricity company and later the supply of mobile telephone services to the public by its Tonfon division.

    In May 2005, the king announced the company was transferred back to the government including all potential partners and the electricity assets owned and managed by the Shoreline Group since 1998. The announcement came after the Tongan government confirmed during the same month it’s suspending an electricity tax after thousands of people took to the streets to protest against it.

    The pro-Democracy Movement organised the march, calling for the power supply to be taken from the Shoreline company, Radio New Zealand reported.

    Soane’s fraud charges revelation came after the SFO has brought fraud charges against Roger Pikia, the chairman of Te Arawa River Iwi Trust (TARIT) and its investment company THL Limited (THL).

    Mr Pikia, 58, did not enter a plea when he appeared in the Auckland District Court last year December 16.

    He was charged with ‘Obtaining by deception’, ‘Corrupt acceptance of gift by an agent’, ‘Receiving a secret reward for procuring a contract’, ‘Perverting the course of justice’ and ‘Conspiracy to commit an offence’. The charges are in relation to his role as chairman of TARIT and THL.

    Mr Pikia’s co-defendant, who was believed to be the Ramanlal, was charged with ‘Conspiracy to commit an offence’. He was not present during the December hearing.

    In 2016 the Maori trust was granted land leases and at least 50 years control over the former public enterprise Tonga Forest Products Limited.

    At the time, the Tongan government said the trust, represents two iwi and had agreed to pay just over US$4.4 million in return for management of the company for 50 years, with the option to renew for a further 25 years.

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