FEO refers Saneem to FICAC; alleges unlawful authorisation of sitting allowance

Mohammed Saneem. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FT FILE

The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has referred suspended Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) for probable abuse of office and for corrupting benefits given to, or received by, a public official.

A statement from the FEO this morning alleged Mr Saneem to have – on numerous occasions during his tenure with FEO – “unlawfully authorised payments of sitting allowances to the Electoral Commission”.

The Constitutional Offices Commission ((COC) had clarified to Mr Saneem that the allowance for the chairperson and members of the Commission remained at the same rate of $500 a person for each meeting.

However, it stated that Mr Saneem continued to give instructions for sitting allowances to be paid to the chairperson and members for attending events, including social functions, other than meetings.

The FEO noted Section 5 of the Electoral Act 2014 that specified meetings must be held at such place and at such times as determined by the chairperson or a majority of the members of the Commission.

It stated that the Commission members could also meet virtually.

“Even with a clear definition of meeting in the Electoral Act 2014 and clarification from COC on payment of allowance, Mr Saneem continued to deviate from this and constantly gave instructions for payment of $500 allowance to the chairperson and members of EC,” the FEO stated.

This matter has been referred to FICAC for further investigations.

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