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Corruption investigation into NGO activities

WHEN Fijian Prime Minister, RearAdmiral Frank Bainimarama, handed out keys to the residents of Lagilagi Housing Estate in November 2013, he was giving homes to the disabled, needy and the elderly. Or so he thought. Investigations have shown that of the 120 families which occupy flats in the model housing subdivision in Fiji’s capital, at least 20 do not qualify for the homes.

Now the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption has opened a file to investigate the finances and affairs of the Peoples Community Network which was originally formed in 2009. At the heart of the investigation are allegations of nepotism, corruption and misappropriation of members’ funds. Documents obtained by Islands Business show that of the 16 staff members of PCN, 10 are related to the organisation’s director, Semiti Qalowasa. Among them are four nieces, an uncle, cousin, sister-in-law and brother-inlaw.

When PCN was formed in 2009 after it broke away from the Economic and Social Justice Programme of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA), there were already allegations of misappropriation. Qalowasa was forced to quit ECREA after he used programme funds to build a road for his wife’s community in Wailoku.

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