Fiji Sun - - FRONT PAGE - SHALVEEN CHAND The fake re­ceipt used in the al­leged scam. Edited by Jonathan Bryce

More than 80 peo­ple were al­legedly duped into buy­ing land in Makoi, which was set aside for re­set­tle­ment of in­for­mal set­tlers from Vatuwaqa. The al­leged scam is worth over $150,000, where peo­ple, in­clud­ing civil ser­vants, have al­legedly paid as much as $5000 for land. The land be­longed to K Bhindi Brothers Limited and was not for sale.

The Fiji In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion Against Cor­rup­tion (FICAC), with as­sis­tance from the Min­istry of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment have ar­rested two peo­ple.

The land in Makoi is be­ing de­vel­oped for $12 mil­lion by K Bhindi Brothers to re­lo­cate squat­ters at the Nanuku Set­tle­ment. The Vatuwaqa land also be­longed to the com­pany and they want to de­velop this into a com­mer­cial lot.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed the two peo­ple, one who was a for­mer em­ployee of the com­pany, tricked peo­ple into pay­ing money think­ing they were pur­chas­ing land in Makoi from the Min­is­ter of Hous­ing Premila Ku­mar, when no such deal ex­isted. The two men al­legedly is­sued fake re­ceipts and had a stamp on the re­ceipts which read ‘The Min­istry of Lo­cal Govern­ment & Hous­ing Project For Makoi.’

The mat­ter was brought to the Min­istry of Hous­ing by Gaitri Prakash, a Jus­tice of Peace, who was ap­proached by three women who were sus­pi­cious of a deal they were of­fered.

Rosie’s story

Rosie Goundar, 41, sells flow­ers and was ap­proached by a per­son known to her at the USP Mar­ket. He asked if she would be in­ter­ested in land in Makoi, Nas­inu. As she had been in­ter­ested she tried to en­quire more.

“I was taken to an­other man by this fel­low I knew. I was told that the cost of the land was $7000 and I could se­cure the land for a de­posit of $4000,” she said.

“I was in­stantly told that Lot 21 was mine. I told them that I did not have that much money and was told I needed to pay $200 to en­sure my in­ter­est was pro­tected.”

Ms Goundar said she was told to come to the real es­tate of­fice in Nau­sori to fi­nalise the deal. She made haste to in­spect the land and did not want to miss the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase the land at the low cost of $7000.

Ms Goundar, her sis­ter Ni­ran­jala and a school teacher then went to the so called real es­tate of­fice op­po­site the To­tal Ser­vice Sta­tion near Ratu Cakobau Park.

Ms Goundar and the two women be­came sus­pi­cious as the of­fice was in a run­down shop with no signs. They were as­sured by the two men that they had the back­ing of the min­is­ter and pro­vided news­pa­per cut­tings to show that Makoi land was be­ing de­vel­oped.

Ms Goundar paid $1000 as a de­posit. The mat­ter was taken to Ms Prakash as Ni­ran­jala be­came sus­pi­cious of the deal.

Come for­ward

FICAC in a state­ment said the Min­is­ter and Min­istry for Hous­ing were not par­tak­ing in trans­ac­tions such as these and any­one claim­ing this should be re­ported im­me­di­ately.

FICAC also in­vited the pub­lic to come for­ward with ev­i­dence or in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to this scam, es­pe­cially if they were vic­tims.

Po­lice are now also in­volved and also an­swer­able would be the peo­ple who made the stamp for the two al­leged scam­mers.

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