Ministry assists FICAC in land sale scam
Thursday 17 September 2020 – Further to the Public Notice issued by Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) on Friday 11 September 2020, the Ministry of Housing and Community Development (Ministry) would like to further update the public on the recent land sale scam in the River Road settlement in Narere and the Millennium informal settlement in Nausori. The Ministry discovered that letters have been issued to public using fake letter heads of the Ministry authorizing them to construct dwellings in these two settlements.
The Ministry would like to confirm that these letters are not genuine and does not carry any validity. Two staff members of the Ministry is being investigated by FICAC at the moment in relation to this incident and the staff has not reported to work since this issue surfaced.
“The incident started unfolding when the Ministry first noticed that a letter was issued under a fake letter head of the Ministry to a person in Bangladesh, Labasa giving him the consent to apply for a temporary water connection. During an inspection carried out by the Ministry Millennium Informal Settlement, just a day later, another three fake letters were found – this time authorizing people to construct dwellings within the settlement,” said Hon. Kumar..
Both cases were immediately informed to FICAC and to date eight cases from Millennium and another three cases from River Road have been notified to FICAC and investigations are in progress.
At this point in time, only two families in River Road have notified that they paid cash and as per FICAC, a Justice of Peace has also been questioned in relation to the case.
“We believe that some of the ex-staffs of the Ministry may also be part of this scam and names have already been shared with FICAC for further investigation.”
“We invite public to come forward and report if you or anyone whom you know has received similar letters. At the same time, it is also important for the Public to be careful of such scams – if any Government Institution is selling land, it will be formally advertised and the general government procedure will be followed and will not be done through junior staffs in the institutions. You will also receive a formal receipt issued by the Government of Fiji for any payment you make to a Ministry,” said the Minister.
The Minister also confirmed that there are no land lots for sale or lease in the development lease areas controlled by the Ministry. Allocation of lots in these areas will only happen after the completion of upgrade projects and in line with the lot allocation policies.
A similar scam was uncovered by FICAC in relation to a land in Makoi, based on the information provided by the Ministry only few weeks ago. The Ministry would also like to clarify that the Ministry is not engaged in sale of land or issuance of leases. These are normally done by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, iTLTB, Housing Authority or other private developers. Public is advised to directly contact these institutions for their need for acquisition of land for residential purposes. The Ministry assists those who are first land buyers with the Government’s First Land Purchase Grant Assistance.
The Ministry is appreciative of the assistance provided by FICAC thus far, and will continue to do all it can, to prevent and discourage vulnerable Fijians from falling victims into such scams.
Furthermore, the Ministry is urging members of the public not to give money to any individual without checking with the organization first and to always demand for a receipt after making any payment.
Any further information on such letters can be provided direct to FICAC office or by directly contacting Director Housing on Ronit.Sen@govnet.gov.fj. Copies of such letters are also attached herewith for the further awareness of the Public.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Sanjeeva Perera
Ministry of Housing and Community Development
Tel: 3304 364