Forgery charges against the fraudster Lavulavu couple have been dropped in a move that shocked the landlord’s lawyer.
Cabinet Minister Akosita Lavulavu and her disgraced husband Etuate Lavulavu had been prosecuted with jointly and knowingly submitting a forged document to the Ministry of Lands and Survey with the intention of changing the land lease number 8660 from business lease to quarry.
The information was contained in a court document seen by Kaniva News.
The forged document appeared to have been signed by the landlord, Sione Tunufa’i Tui, but Tui did not sign, know or agree with the content of the document allegedly forged by the Lavulavus, the court document said.
Police Magistrate Loupua Kulī dismissed the charges on June 21, about two weeks before the Lavulavus were sentenced in the Supreme Court for plundering more than half a million pa’anga from the government school grant scheme.
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The move has shocked Tui’s lawyer, Vili Mo’ale. Mo’ale told Kaniva News this afternoon July 7 the Magistrate’s decision was the first time he knew the prosecution had been dropped.
He said he filed the private prosecution on November 17, 2020 and it was processed to be heard in court but was delayed so the Lavulavus’ sentencing could be processed first.
Mo’ale said he just found out that ‘Etuate and Tui had agreed without him being involved to drop the prosecution.
“A decision was made to dismiss it and nothing can be done,” Mo’ale said.
He said he later repeatedly attempted to contact Tui, but to no avail.
“Even today I have not heard from Tui. I was told he has left for Vava’u”.
‘Etuate contacts Tui
As we reported previously, we interviewed Tui following the revelation that he had prosecuted the Lavulavus.
In that interview, Tui said ‘Etuate chased him after he took legal action against him and his wife, but he managed to avoid him as he did not want to talk to him.
Asked why ‘Etuate was searching for him Tui, said ‘Etuate may have wanted to negotiate about dropping the prosecution.
We recently contacted Tui to follow up on the case, but he did not answer his phone.
Condemned by the Supreme Court as dishonest and deceitful, the Lavulavus have been sentenced to five and six years respectively for their part in defrauding the government school grant scheme.
Judge Cooper, presiding, described their crime as “the worst sort of dishonesty.”
“The conduct of these defendants would be disgraceful in anyone, but for a member of cabinet, and a man who used his political connections and position to facilitate these frauds, goes beyond just criminally reprehensible,” he said.
Apart from an earlier conviction in the United States 1990s, he was sued by Late Prince Tu’ipelehake in 2000 for damages and unlawful cultivation of his land. Chief Justice Ward ordered Lavulavu to quit the land and pay $7,905 damages. The judge was scathing about aspects of Lavulavu’s testimony during the trial, saying: “I felt he was willing to say almost anything that seemed to suit the moment with a repeated disregard for the truth.”
Ne fai pe hono tuli holo ‘e ‘Etuate Lavulavu ‘a Sione Tunufa’i Tui he feinge ke meesi ‘o tamate’i hona faka’ilo ki he tohi nima loi’, ‘o ma’u pea neongo na’e tukupā ‘a Tui he’ikai te ne tali ha kole ‘a ‘Etuate ke tamate’i ‘a e tikite’ ka ne iku pe ‘o tukulolo ‘a Tui he ‘aho 15 ‘o Sune, toe ia e uike ‘e ua pea tautea ngāue pōpula ‘a e ongo Lavulavu ki hono ma’u ta’etotonu ‘a e pa’anga ‘ova he vaeaua miliona’ mei he pa’anga tokoni’i ‘o e ngaahi ako’ ‘e he pule’anga’. Na’e faka’ilo foki ‘e Tui ‘a e ongo Lavulavu ki he’ena fa’u ‘a e tohi fakamo’oni loi ‘o ‘ave ki he Savea ke liliu’aki ‘a e lisi ‘o hono ‘api mei he pisinisi’ ki he keli’anga maka. Na’e pehē ‘e Tui hala ke ne fai e tohi pea na’e ‘ikai fakamo’oni ia ai. Kaekehe, kuo fakahā ‘e he loea ‘a Tui ki he Kaniva’ ne ne ‘ohovale ia hono ui e hopo’ he ‘aho 21 māhina kuo ‘osi’ ‘o fakahā ai ‘e he fakamaau polisi’ Loupua Kulī kuo ‘osi felotoi ‘a Tui ia mo e ongo Lavulavu ke tamate’i ‘a e hopo ‘oua toe hoko atu. Na’e ‘ikai ‘ilo e loea’ ki heni pea fiu ia he toe feinga atu kia Tui ‘ikai toe tali mai pea ko e me’a ne ne ‘ilo’ kuo ‘osi mavahe ia ki Vava’u.