Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yatu Lau Class A Shareholders and NBF loans

Posted by Pacific in the Media

A Special Report by VICTOR LAL

In 2005 the present CEO of Yatu Lau Company Ltd, Michael Makasiale, boasted a long list of 743 shareholders comprising individuals, islands, mataqali, villages, youth groups, companies and families to name a few, who held shares in company.

He did not disclose the identities of the Class A shareholders nor did any one bother or tried to obtain one, presumably fearful of the powerful Mara-Ganilau dynasty which claimed to be the hereditary repositories’ of the interests of the i-taukei Fijians in the country.

The principal activities of the company, as it informed the Registrar of Companies, were that of owners and administrators of properties, equity investments, hotel operations and property developments and sales. In its Annual Report for 2008, Koila Mara Nailatikau, as chairperson of the company, informed the ROC on 19 August 2009 that effective 1 December 2008, ‘the company amalgamated all its existing lending with Fiji Development Bank to one loan account (account number 1155418) at the rate of 6% per annum fixed for 24 months. The interest rate after the expiry of the fixed term will be reviewed and determined based on the market rates’.

ROC was informed that the net profit after income tax of Yatu Lau for 2008 was $2,0008,043 (2007: $1,594,071). The consolidated net profit after income tax attributable to the members of the company for the financial year was $2,001,043 (2007: $1,590,612). During 2008, final dividends of $305,889 for 2007 was declared and paid out of profits for the year ended 31 December 2007 and interim dividend of $305,888 was declared and paid for 2008.

The directors, ROC, was informed, and were not aware of any circumstances, which would render the amount written off for bad debts, or the allowance for doubtful debts in the company and the group, inadequate to any substantial extent.

A further search into Yatu Lau also reveals that Koila Nailatikau, as director of the company also entered Yatu Lau into a mortgage on 16 June 2010 with Fiji Development Bank, P O Box 104, Suva. The amount secured by the mortgage or charge reads as follows: ‘$7,695,358.79 (Seven million six hundred ninety five thousand three hundred fifty eight dollars and seventy nine cents) and all further loans and advances in the absolute discretion of the mortgagee.’

A month earlier, on 26 May 2010, Nailatikau and Makasiale had signed with the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd an increase in mortgage lending of $6,000,000 (Six Million Dollars) on 4 February 2009 for another $4,606,000 (Four Million Six Hundred and Six Thousand Dollars) making a total of $10,606,000 (Ten Million and Six Hundred and Six Thousand Dollars and further advances.

According to the Fiji Development Bank, its Board of Directors was as follows: John Prasad, chairman and controversial New Zealander now permanent secretary with Fiji’s Finance Ministry, Jitoko Tikolevu, CEO, FIRCA, Josefa Serulagilagi, chairman of the Tailevu Provincial Council; Ilaisa Cavu, CEO, Agricultural Marketing Authority, and Manasa Vaniqi, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Provincial Development & Multi Ethnic Affairs.

Josefa Serulagilagi and National Bank of Fiji: $12,000

As a side note, the above is listed in the 1996 Debtors List as owing $12,064.71 to the collapsed National Bank of Fiji. Serulagilagi, a strong apologist for Banimarama’s 2006 coup, is also the chairman of the Public Service Commission. In early 2009, he was initially named to replace Rishi Ram as PSC chairman but the 1997 Constitution of Fiji stood in his way, for any person holding inter-alia a public office three years immediately prior to a proposed appointment to an independent service commission was disqualified.

Serulagilagi was the Tailevu Provincial Council chairman for seven years until December 2008. With the abrogation of the Constitution appointments have come flowing in his way.

What about the list of Class A shareholders?

To date, the shareholders remain buried in the Yatu Lau company files. Here, one is reminded of an attempt by the Fiji Development Bank (Fijian Holdings Ltd v Baba [2001] FJHC 170; HBC400.2000 (8 January 2001)) to obtain an injunction from the Fiji High Court following a media release on 14 September 2000 by Tupeni Baba, Adi Kuini Speed and the Peoples Coalition of some 15 pages making allegations against the FDB to the effect that individual Fijians and Fijian family companies had acquired shares irregularly from the FDB and particularly:

(i) That the government gave a $20 million loan to the Plaintiff (FDB) for the benefit of individual Fijians and Fijian family companies;

(ii) That the Fijian Affairs Board condoned the alleged share allotment;

(iii) The Interim Prime Minister Mr. Qarase was Managing Director of the Fiji Development Bank and a member of the Board of the Plaintiff during a period which saw a dramatic increase in Fijian Holdings shares issued to individuals and companies funded by the Fiji Development Bank;

(iv) An initiative that was intended to help ordinary Fijians through their Provincial Councils was allowed ‘to be hijacked by individuals and family companies who were close to the SVT Government’.

The Media Release demanded a full and independent inquiry into these allegations. The FDB said the publication complained of was deliberately false in certain material particulars and that unless restrained from further publication would cause further irreparable damage to the FDB’s reputation as a successful undertaking.

Baba, Adi Kuini and Peoples Coalition alleged in their Release that an announcement made by the Interim Prime Minister shortly before 14 September 2000 to convert the $20 million loan to a grant and to give each Province one million shares in FDB would result in the Provinces who were to be issued with ‘B’ Class shares receiving a much lower dividend than Class ‘A’ shares held by the family company. The trio said that as a result the Fijian people were being short changed.

The application to the High Court alleged breach of confidence. It also alleged that the trio, particularly Adi Kuini, had a duty not to take unfair advantage of their knowledge of FDB, which they had gained through public and other sources.

The motive of the trio was said to be to destroy certain members and officers of the FDB. This, it is claimed, if successful, would destroy the reputation of the FDB and punish unfairly members of the Company who had bought shares in good faith and who faced financial risk for borrowings to fund their share purchase.

Early in its submission, the FDB acknowledged that it was a listed Company and much of the content of the Media Release was public knowledge. The FDB, Justice John Byrne noted, that nowhere was it suggested that the allegations made in the Release were of confidential information nor in his judgment could they be for the following reasons:

‘The Plaintiff (FDB) is a public listed company. Like all companies, it is required to keep a share register (s.114 of the Companies Act) and, if it has more than 50 members, an index of members (s.115). Both are open to inspection from members and others (s.117). It is required to file an annual return (s.127), which includes details of members as required in the Sixth Schedule. In short, the membership of the Plaintiff is not confidential information.

Indeed, the law requires that the company itself put the information in the public domain - namely the Companies Registry - from which the media release makes clear the information was sourced (the other stated source was the Plaintiff's own annual report).

To the extent that there is reference in the media release to the debt financing of shareholders, this too is ascertainable from public records (s.127). Of course, any information on the indebtedness of shareholders, even if it was confidential, would belong to the shareholders, not the Plaintiff. In paragraph 8 of the affidavit of Jaoji Koroi, the Secretary of the Plaintiff, complaint is made that the Release of the ‘information’ by the Defendants was not authorised by the Plaintiff. I ask, why should it have been? What need is there for any authority relating to information put into the public domain in compliance with the Companies Act? The answer must be none.’

In Byrne’s judgment the motion by the FDB was nothing more than a clumsy attempt to gag discussion of a legitimate topic of public interest, namely the use of $20 million of public money in a Company dominated by private shareholders. The FDB made no attempt to assert any of the necessary elements of breach of confidence.

Byrne quoted a voice from the past: ‘I disagree completely with what you say but shall defend to the death your right to say it.’

He added a footnote: ‘So said Voltaire nearly three centuries ago but it would seem from the evidence and submissions presented by the Plaintiff (FDB) in this application for Interim Injunction that the Plaintiff, at least in the circumstances of this case, does not share the belief so passionately held by the French Philosopher.’ Consequently Byrne found there were no grounds for granting an Injunction.

He, accordingly, dismissed the Motion and ordered the FDB to pay the trio costs of $350. Likewise, many tikinas, yasanas, individuals and companies own or have been cajoled into owning Class A shares (open only to Lauans and flying in the face of the dictator’s slogan of a race-free Fiji) in Yatu Lau, headed by the Mara clan.

Class A Shareholders: Who’s Who!

Let us begin with the Fijian chiefly Adis’

Adi Koila Nailatikau, chairperson, Yatu Lau Company Ltd, 29,763 shares;

Adi Litia Cakobau Nailatikau (daughter of the Nailatikaus) 2,333;

Adi Ateca Ganilau, 9,000;

Adi Elenoa Mara, 9000;

Adi Kakua Mara, 9000;

Adi Litia Dugdale, 9000;

Adi Taraivini Rasolo, 161;

Adi Wasabalavu Saulekaleka, 300;

Adi Sai Tuivanuavou, 161 shares.

Adi Sai Tuivanuavou was listed as owing $209,572 to the collapsed NBF; half-sister of Ratu Mara and coup apologist Ratu Cokanauto’s present wife.

In May of this year, Cokanauto and other chiefs from Tailevu (home to my maternal family), assured the dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister Bainimarama of the province’s support for his leadership and to his illegal government, with Cokanauto urging his illegal visitor to be strong, and reminding him that Rome was not built in a day.

Like the building of Rome, the National Bank of Fiji was not built in a day but reckless borrowing and the failure to pay up their debts saw the bank reduced to rubble, and to date we do not know if Adi Sai repaid her own debt of over $200,000 to the collapsed bank. The highly secretive Aidney-Dickson Report cites her as owing nearly $300,000.

A Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed to establish whether many of the NBF debtors, including Adi Sai and the likes, borrowed taxpayers money from the bank to purchase shares in Yatu Lau.

The chiefly Ratus and Yatu Lau Class A Shareholders

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, chairman of Lau Provincial Council, director of Yatu Lau, 9000 shares;

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara Jnr, 375;

Ratu Finau Mara, 9000;

Ratu Kamisese Vuna Nailatikau (son of the Nailatikaus), 2,334;

Ratu Sir KKT Mara Scholarship Fund, 100,000;

Ratu Alifereti Ledua &Atunaisa Gucake, 150;

Ratu Aseri Qoro Latiana, 150;

Ratu Jale Uluilakeba, 129;

Ratu Jone Baravilavila, 300.

Tevita Loga and Family, 175 Class A Shares

The Toga family have been very close to the Mara family. Tevita Loga was Ratu Mara’s Mata ni Vanua. On 21 December 1993, Tevita Loga, along with Selai Toga and Sunia Sokobalavu Loga registered with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) the Cakaunika Shipping Company Ltd to service the Lauan islands.

Cakaunika Shipping Company owed $908, 209 to NBF

In 1996, however, the shipping company was listed as owing to the collapsed NBF a staggering $908,209. Curiously, hardly any legal paper trail exists in the ROC on the company. However, some highly reliable sources within the Lauan community allege that a vast amount of the sum from the collapsed Cakaunika Shipping was diverted to a high-ranking Lauan to start another business enterprise (Editor’s Note: We will reveal the identity of that high-ranking person and the evidence we have on us one of these days).

MV Lau Trader

Meanwhile, in January 2009, a new multi-million dollar vessel MV Lau Trader made its trial voyage to Lakeba, Nayau, Cicia, Tuvuca, Kabara, Yacata and Vanua Balavu. Ratu Mara’s sister, Adi Taraivini (who owns 161 shares in Yatu Lau) was one of the first passengers to travel on the MV Lau Trader. In November 2009, Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, chairman of Lau Provincial Council, had declined to provide any details to the media and referred all questions to Yatu Lau Company Limited CEO Michael Makasiale.

In an earlier interview, Makasiale had said the new ship would be worth more than $1million. He had said that newly formed Lau Shipping Company Limited through its three shareholders - Lau Provincial Council, the district of Lakeba and Ika Vuka Enterprises, bought the boat, measuring 51 metres in length with a capacity for 300 passengers. The boat was bought from a Dunedin-based company in New Zealand.

In January 2010, Makasiale disclosed that Lau Shipping Company Ltd, the owners and managers of MV Lau Trader, were all set to implement its plan of a floating supermarket on board the vessel. He said this was one affordable way of getting goods to villagers on the islands who could only buy in bulk so there was no competition created with existing traders there. ‘We are hoping to have the supermarket on board the vessel by this Friday when Lau Traders makes its fourth voyage,’ Makasiale said.

What is intriguing is in what capacity was Makasiale speaking about the MV Trader? Yatu Lau is not involved, at least from public pronouncements, in the so-called ‘partnership’ to provide shipping services.

Lakeba Tikina has 171,691 shares in Yatu Lau

The Tikina ko Lakeba own 117,691 Class A shares in Yatu Lau Company Ltd (Yatu Lau) and what about Ika Vuka Enterprises Ltd? There are no official records on the so-called newly formed Lau Shipping Company Ltd! In passing, Lakeba is the island in which the village of Nayau is situated and Ratu Mara was ‘sili/bathed’ or ‘crowned’ as Tui Nayau and never as Tui Lau.

Some Lauan acquaintances of mine, who hold no shares or cant afford to own any, were even wondering where did the Lakeba Tikina get the money from in these difficult economic times to invest in MV Lau Trader, for since the events of 5 December 2006 even businesses are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Ika Vuka Enterprises and Cross Ownership – Mara-Ganilau Venture

Since the NBF series began, I have been repeatedly questioning that pig headed lawyer and illegal and treasonous Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, (not a day passes with his picture in the front page of the Fiji Sun) to explain why he is practising double standards by demanding that there should be no cross media ownership and yet is allowing the Mara-Ganilau dynasty and other regime supporters to own and profit from cross ownerships.

We have already revealed that the Mara-Ganilau siblings are directors and shareholders in Yatu Lau, Lomaloma Resort Ltd etc etc. And I can now reveal that those behind the Ika Vuka are none other than the Mara-Ganilau clan.

The Ika Vuka was registered on 21 September 2007. The registered office of the company is situated at Narain Wharf, Walu Bay, Suva. On 14 September, Tevita Uluilakeba Mara (c/- P O Box 12482, Suva), Commanding Officer of the RFMF’s Third Infantry Regiment, and his sister Ateca Ganilau (c/- P O Box 1482, Suva), the wife of the illegal Minister of Defence and former army commander Epeli Ganilau, were presented as directors of Ika Vuka.

The object of the company is to provide inter alia inter-island shipping services. Uluilakeba Mara signed off the documents. He used his trademark signature of Tevita Mara (a signature he has used before in the arrest, torture and detention of the dictator Bainimarama’s opponents).

Shareholders and Number of Shares

Adi Ateca Ganilau 14%

Adi Koila Nailatikau 14%

Adi Asenaca Kakau Mara 14%

Adi Litia Cakobau Mara 14%

Adi Elenoa Mara 14%

Ratu Alifereti Finau Mara 14%

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara 16%

Lau Provincial Council

In launching the MV Trader, Uluilakeba Mara stated that it was a partnership venture that included the Lau Provincial Council (LPC). As we have noted above, the Lau Provincial Council hold a massive 477,131 shares in Yatu Lau whose directors and shareholders include the Mara-Ganilau siblings.

Uluilakeba is the present chairman of the LPC, the position to which he was elected for three years in June 2008 following the LPC’s meeting held at the Police Academy in Nasova, Suva. At that meeting the LPC also predictably endorsed Bainimarama’s illegal regime.

In the 1970s, Tevita Loga of Cakaunika Shipping was a previous chairman of the LPC. Since no records have been found in relation to MV Lau Trader in the ROC, one wonders whether the newly formed company has been taken over from (consolidated with) Cakaunikau Shipping Company, which owed the collapsed NBF nearly $1million.

To be continued in

Comments posted on

  • This investigation by Victor Lal throws a very different light at how the Qarase government was unfairly taken over. The real people who were behind the whole unpleasant stench, could have been the whole reason the Qarase government became the scapegoat.

    There are some who will think of others and some who will go to any length to obtain through devious means and are also prepared to point the finger at others for their safety. This pretentious way of leadership is what Bainimarama is actually acting out here.

    We all know that he is incapable of leading the country to a bright future with a sound economy, and a country that is loved for all the right reasons. His interviews are all about blaming past politicians and lies that shamefully accompany an arrogant attitude which doesn't potray the Fijian people's real attitude and behaviour.

    Bainimarama said that he wants to clean the country of corruption, well, in his government there is a whole lot of people he can start with, including their families. They can gave their day in court and prove that they are indeed innocent of these allegations. There is no shane in the way the people are hoodwinked by these people according to this report.

    It is what are in these reports which are coming out, that are worth investigating, not the Tuisolia case which got the government's attention and action over a $20 license, shameful !

    Well, Victor Lal has brought out these reports not only for the people of the Lau group of islands to see and make their own assumptions, but also the people of Fiji.

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