Closing arguments in fraud trial of Cabinet Minister Akosita Lavulavu and husband ousted former MP ‘Etuate

The Lavulavu couple knew they were misleading Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools funding by submitting fake names to support applications to claim money to which they were not entitled, a prosecutor told a Supreme Judge last week, in the defendants’ fraud trial.

‘Etuate Lavulavu and Minister of Infrastructure Akosita Lavulavu. Photo/Facebook

‘Etuate Lavulavu, who was representing himself, told Judge Nicholas Cooper he did not directly involve as he was away in Vava’u and in Fiji at the time of the incident and that prosecutors have failed to prove otherwise.

“What are the fake names that were added to the list? What went wrong with it and who were those fake names?” ‘Etuate asked at the end of the proceedings, local media reported.

Witnesses for Akosita told the court the names of students the prosecutor has submitted as fake were indeed students who were enrolled at Unuaki ‘O Tonga Royal Institute (UNRTI).

The prosecutors and the defendants were to finish their closing statements Friday 28, before Justice Cooper decides the Lavulavus’ fate.

The couple have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to knowingly dealt with forged documents and obtaining credit by false pretences.

An investigation was prompted by the Auditor General’s office claiming hundreds of students supposedly attending the UNTRI could not be identified and that the Institute should repay TP$553,800 to the Technical Vocational Education and Training fund (TVET).

Police charged the couple with using forged documents to support an application to obtain supplementary government funding to assist students at their UTRI private school.


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