Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commerce Commission Letter Shows Corrupt Aziz Tried to Influence Cement Price

Posted on Coup Four Point Five - 15 June 2011



Evidence has surfaced on the questionable business antics of Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz while the deputy chair of the Fijian Holdings Ltd. A letter sent to Coupfourpointfive shows Aziz trying to gain personally from his appointed position as early as 2008.

The letter was written by the then chair of the Commerce Commission, Charles Sweeney, and paper trails Aziz's attempts to use his military and FHL position to bully the Commission into putting the price of cement up.

Sweeney, who was dismissed in 2009 but who had tried to keep the work of the Commission independent of the regime, described Aziz's visit in the letter reprimanding him as 'a threat to the Commission.'
"The unannounced visit of an extremely senior member of the military council and sometime commander of the RFMF give rise to the perception that the Commission is expected to act in accordance with the wishes of that person. It also communicates to the staff that the military council and therefore the Government do not respect the obligation of the Commission to act independently of government."


Sweeney also wrote: "I have given written instructions that the concrete price application is to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the Commission's established procedures. No favour will be given to it, nor will it be disadvantaged by your visit. On present figures, however, I think it unlikely that the application will be successful.


"I request that, if in future you or any member of the Military Council or the government has any issue that you wish to discuss with the Commission, or if you wish to have the Commission's  position or any matter explained, you make contact directly with me and not with the staff. 

"I also request that any representations made to either body in future about the Commission are made available to me to enable the Commission's position to be available to the government or the Military Council.... Otherwise, you encourage intrigue and destabilisation of an independent statutory body the continued independence of which is important to the Fijian economy."

Aziz resigned from Fijian Holdings Ltd earlier this year citing 'personal reasons' but word on the ground was he had fallen out of favour with Frank Bainimarama and Co because of his dodgy business dealings. He was allowed to 'resign' to avoid another public shaming for the regime, who had appointed him and others in the flush of its so-called 'clean up campaign.' 

The cement price rise is not the first revelation about Aziz's questionable business ethics. We've also revealed he borrowed $2.5 million from Merchant Finance while he was chairman of the company and still on the Fiji Holdings Ltd board. The money was used to build his wife's medical centre in Rewa Street.

Read the 2008 Commerce Commission letter about Aziz

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