Looking at Corruption Cases
Judiciaries’ world over have often taken a hard line against corruption and abuse of office. And this has been the best deterrent in some of the more developed nations worldwide.
Abuse of office particularly has been a charge most frowned upon. Which is why some recent cases in Fiji where public officials who were convicted of corruption related activities and given suspended and partly suspended sentences comes as a surprise and reason for some concern.
What is more worrying is the lack of consistency in sentences of those convicted of corruption cases.
Recently, Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption won some cases but was it really a win?
■ Let’s look at these cases:
A former Finance Clerk with the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for three years by the Nausori Magistrates Court. Adi Filomena Serau was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption last July with one count of Obtaining a Financial Advantage.
She admitted to receiving cash payments made to TLTB and not depositing it into the account of her employer amounting to $12,174.90 FJD, which she used for herself.
This took place between June and December 2017. In delivering the Sentence, Resident Magistrate Shageeth Somaratne said that by committing this offence, the Accused breached the trust of her employer and the public who were depositing funds to the TLTB.
Then was the case of Taniela Kepacavu who was jailed for 12 months custodial and had his 8 months sentence suspended for 2 years for obtaining $8000.
He was the assistant provincial treasurer for the Bua Provincial Council and $8620 which was to be deposited in the Bua Naulumatua Account, the Bua Province Scholarship Account and the Bua Rest House Account was instead used by him for personal use. His case was before Magistrate Bimsara Jagodage at the Labasa Magistrates Court. And, then we have the case of Ravinesh Sagar who was jailed for 18 months custodial imprisonment for obtaining $196.
Sagar was charged with falsifying receipts of $196. He was jailed by Magistrate J. M. Boseiwaqa. Sagar was a revenue collector at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital where he falsified two receipts and pocketed $196.
All above not only shows the leniency but also a vast inconsistency.
Three cases all related to corruption and the case with highest amount stolen received the most lenient sentence when the matter was very serious, where landowners were robbed of their dues.
Singapore is considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world. They did not achieve this feat overnight.
Singapore has strong anti-corruption laws and a powerful corrupt practices investigation bureau.
The Singaporean Judiciary take matters of corruption very seriously. The sentences they handed out became deterrents for others and it worked out very well for them.
Abuse of office, corruption are not light charges.
They are very serious in nature and need to be dealt with just as seriously.