Princess Salote Pilolevu Mafile’o Tuita

The Appeal Court has refused Tongasat an application to present new evidence in an appeal against a decision handed down against it last year.

Following a
seven day trial in August last year, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen declared that a
payment  of $US24.45 million received by
the Kingdom from the Peoples Republic of China in 2008 was a grant and
therefore counted as public money within the 
Public  Finance Management Act.

He also
declared  that a second payment   of $US25.45 million received by the Kingdom
from the Peoples Republic of China in 
2011 was a grant and therefore public money within that Act.

As Kaniva news reported at the time, this
meant the payment of tens of  millions of
dollars of Chinese grant money to Princess Pilolevu’s satellite company was
declared illegal by the court.

The court
said Tongasat was not entitled to the money.

Lord Chief
Justice Paulsen’s ruling  was in favour
of the action brought by the Public Service Association (PSA), Prime Minister
‘Akilisi Pohiva and Kingdom of Tonga.

Tongasat –
formally known as the Friendly  Islands
Satellite Telecommunications Ltd – appealed the judgment and asked the court
for permission to produce new evidence.

New evidence
can only be introduced if the court grants permission on special grounds.

Tongasat
wanted to produce affidavits   from  Lord  
Matoto,  Sunia   Fili, ‘Aisake Eke and ‘Aholotu Palu.

Lord Matoto
was the Minister for Finance in September 2008 and was appointed on behalf  of 
the  Kingdom to  go 
to  Beijing  and 
sign  an  agreement 
with  the   Peoples Republic of China that provided for
the two payments in question.

Sunia Fili
was the Minister for Finance at the time of the second payment. He gave
instructions to the Reserve Bank for the disbursement of the funds

‘Aisake Eke
was the Secretary of the Department of Finance at the time of the first payment
and ed to Lord Matoto.

‘Aholotu
Palu was head of the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance in 2011 when
the second payment was received.  He was
aware of the pending payment and its intended disbursement to the appellant.

The Appeal Court said fresh evidence could be accepted only if it could be shown that the evidence could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence for use at the original trial; that it was likely to have an important influence on the result of the case and that it was credible.

The Court
said none of the evidence was discovered for the first time after the trial.

“The role
and involvement of the new witnesses was known in 2008 and 2011, the witnesses
were living in Tonga and available to be interviewed here,” the Court report
said.

“There was
no practical, legal or ethical impediment to them being approached to give
evidence in the trial.”

The appeal
was therefore dismissed.

The
main points

  • The
    Supreme Court has refused Tongasat an application to appeal against a decision
    handed down against it last year.
  • Following
    a seven day in August last year, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen declared that the
    payment  of tens of  millions of dollars of Chinese grant money to
    Princess Pilolevu’s satellite company was illegal.
  • Tongasat
    appealed the judgment and asked the court for permission to produce new
    evidence.

For
more information

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Fonte: https://kanivatonga.nz/2019/04/supreme-court-dismisses-tongasats-appeal-to-present-evidence-from-former-govt-ministers/

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