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Second MP guilty of corruption

A second Fijian member of parliament could be headed to prison after being found guilty of corruption related charges.

The member of parliament is Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, who is a also the paramount chief for the province of Namosi. He was convicted of giving wrong information to the Parliament of Fiji about his residential address and in doing so made $38,000 (AU$25,000) in allowances.

In June, Niko Nawaikula became the first ever Fijian parliamentarian to be jailed. He was charged with the same offence.

Seven more MPs have also been charged for providing a different residential address to incur a financial advantage.

The High Court in Suva ruled that former Matanitobua was guilty and ruled that he was not a permanent resident of Namosi and Veivatuloa Village in Namosi.

Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, the second Fijian MP found guilty of corrupt practices. Picture: Fijian Government

Justice Thushara Kumarage said the court recognised that the phrase ‘permanent residence’ does not seem to have an all-encompassing definition in the legal literature and has been determined subjectively on the relevant circumstances.

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He said the court perceives that in identifying a suitable definition for the phrase ‘permanent residence’ for the contentious reimbursements made by the parliament to the accused, it is useful to comprehend available determinations for the two words independently and apply the circumstances to determine the definition subjectively.

The court in Suva. A second Fijian member of parliament could be headed to prison after being found guilty of corruption related charges. Picture supplied

The court said it would accept the definition of permanent as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, and that the evidence confirmed that Ratu Suliano did not own a house in Namosi Village and was not permanently residing in Veivatuloa Village from the year 2014 until 2022.

The justice said the evidence presented in court proved that Ratu Suliano knowingly submitted false information to the former Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua.

Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, the second Fijian MP found guilty of corrupt practices. He is seen outside Parliament talking with the Fijian AG Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (R). Picture: Fijian Government

The second count of the charge is related to the first count of the offense and according to the judge, Ratu Suliano knowingly submitted those financial claims even though he was aware of the consequence.

The matter has been adjourned to July 29 to confirm the sentencing submissions date.

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