Anti-corruption agency probes Fiji’s ex-elections chief

Former Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem
Former Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem . . . stopped while trying to board a flight to Australia. Image: Daniela Maoate-Cox/VNP/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Fiji’s former Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem is under investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency for alleged abuse of office and has been stopped from fleeing the country.

The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) said Saneem was alleged to have “on numerous occasions . . . unlawfully authorised payments of sitting allowances” to members of the Electoral Commission (EC) and has been referred to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

The FEO said the Constitutional Offices Commission had clarified to Saneem that the allowance for the chairperson and members of the EC remained at the same rate of FJ$500 (NZ$356) per person, per meeting.

Saneem, however, had continued to instruct for allowances to be paid to the commission’s members for attending events other than meetings, including social functions.

According to Section 5 of the Electoral Act 2014, meetings held by the Electoral Commission are to be determined by the chairperson or a majority of the members of the Commission.

The Electoral Commission could also hold meetings virtually.

The FEO said the former elections boss — who was suspended last month and resigned this week — “continued to deviate from this and constantly gave instructions for payment of FJ$500 allowance to the Electoral Commission members”.

Attorney-General Siromi Turaga confirmed to Fijivillage News that Saneem had been trying to board a flight to Australia on Friday morning but was stopped by border officials as he was now under investigation by FICAC.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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