Registrar finds Irregularities in the List of Donations for Unity Fiji and Freedom Alliance

29 January 2021

The Registrar of Political Parties has completed the verification of the list of donations for Unity Fiji and the Freedom Alliance Party. The Registrar has found various discrepancies in the List of Disclosures and as such he has written to both Parties to provide clarifications on the disclosures.

In terms of Unity Fiji, the Registrar has found various donations that were recorded in the bank statements or in the receipt book. The Registrar is of the view that not all the sources of funds have been accurately reflected in the disclosures submitted by the Party. Some funds appear in the bank statements but have not been receipted following a verification of the receipts. However, the same was not listed as required under section 23 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act, 2013.

It is important to point out that Freedom Alliance is a political party that does not operate a bank account till date since its registration in 2014. The Party has contested the 2014 General Election and the 2018 General Election, however, it has maintained that it did not collect any funds. The Party has also not accounted for candidate fees in its accounts and
this is questionable.

The accounts of this Party (Freedom Alliance) have been certified by Auditors engaged by the Party over the last six (6) years, however, the Registrar is concerned as to why the Auditors also did not seek such verification.

“Auditors engaged by Political Parties owe a duty of care to the Registrar of Political Parties and they are required by law to conduct the Audit independently. It is incorrect for the Auditor to assume they are agents of the Political Party, rather they hold a statutory responsibility to audit the compliance of the Political Party to the funding framework under the law. They must carry out this process diligently and where they find breaches of the law, they must note the same in their report without hesitation,” explains Mr. Saneem.

The Registrar wishes to advise members of the Public who have obtained copies of the Lists of Disclosures for both these Parties that the List may be revised and re-submitted by the Parties in due course. Both the Political Parties have been allowed time to respond to the Registrar and in the case of Unity Fiji, the Party has been instructed to prepare an accurate list of donations under the law and furnish the same within 14 days.

-Ends

Neelam Prasad

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