Mr. Francis B Kean
c/o Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities
Private Mail Bag, Samabula, Suva
FIFTEEN QUESTIONS FOR FRANCIS KEAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE FIJI RUGBY UNION – including After the IRB Sevens Series win, Why Did Ben Ryan Threaten To Resign over FRU Board meddling? and How Come the Fiji Rugby Union says that Vodafone is ‘at best misleading, at worst fraudulent’ in a letter to Vodafone CEO dated June 12 2015 that seeks to terminate controversial $40m sponsorship?
Dear Mr Kean
As you know Fijileaks has an excellent reputation for being first with the news concerning Fiji rugby. Amongst many other scoops in which Fijileaks led over the timid local sports media, we broke the story about the IRB funding suspension in January 2014 followed by the PM’s blatant interference in the running of the FRU when your brother-in-law refused to accept the appointment of a CEO selected by the FRU board. We were also first to report on the shameful financial dealings behind the Vodafone consortium deal, your attempt to kick Franck Boivert out of the country because he coached Police to success in the Sukana Bowl against your beloved Navy, and even your recent appointment as chairman of the FRU.
So many stories are reaching us now, from sources at the FRU board, Rugby House and the PM’s office, that we thought it only fair to put these to you for your comments. Especially as the rugby fans of the country are in a state of great excitement ahead of the Rugby World Cup and with less than a year to go before the men’s and women’s teams compete for Olympic 7s rugby glory.
Vinaka for the clarification:
- Are you going to attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup? If so how did you declare your conviction for the manslaughter of John Whippy in December 2006 and did you, in the explanatory section to section 6.9 of the UK visa form VAF1A April 2015, provide the full statement of the New Zealand High Court judge who found that after you had punched him three times in the face, "John Whippy first hit his head against the taxi light then fell heavily to the ground on his back. While he was lying on the ground [you] kicked him on the chest. [You were] dragged away by an unidentified woman but returned to kick John Whippy's head … Kicking this man when he was down demonstrates to me that this was an attack of considerable ferocity. You lost your temper. You resorted to violence. You had to be dragged away from your victim"?
- How did you handle the UK visa 6.14 question, ‘Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character? Answer Yes/No. If ‘Yes’ please provide details in Part 9, Additional Information. You should tell us if you have been involved in anything illegal not already covered in questions 6.9 - 6.13.’ Did you reveal to the UK Home Office the episode of unlawful intimidation reported by Wikipedia as follows: ‘Imraz Iqbal strongly condemned the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for the coup d'état of 5 December 2006. An article he published in Fiji Living resulted in Navy Commander Francis Kean summoning him to Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks and warning him against speaking out against the Military, according to the Fiji Times and Fiji Village (11 December). A studio belonging to Iqbal (Infocus Arts Production House, on Disraeli Road) was destroyed by fire in the early hours of 24 December 2006, Fiji Television reported’?
- Did you reveal to the UK Home Office under 6.14 that it was Transparency International Fiji’s opinion (press release 20 January 2009) that your reinstatement as Navy commander by your brother in law – the prime minister and then military commander – was ‘intolerable’ and a ‘case of nepotism and corruption at the highest level,’ and that your receipt of your full salary while in jail for manslaughter was ‘a clear abuse of public funds’. Fijileaks asks this because you were not elected to the FRU board and so are only the chairman of the FRU by virtue of being appointed to the FRU board as the nominee of the prime minister, your brother-in-law - a clear case of nepotism.
- If you are not going to attend the Rugby World Cup, is it true that Fiji rugby’s interests are going to be represented by Kiwi-born, dual New Zealand and Fiji citizen Carl Ngamoki-Cameron, the FRU’s deputy chairman? In October 2011 Ngamoki-Cameron was removed from the chairmanship and as a director of Fijian Holdings Ltd following an urgent ‘special audit’. Have you comforted yourself that this ‘special audit’, ordered by your brother-in-law, did not produce any finding that would disqualify Ngamoki-Cameron as a board member of the FRU under 38.4 c) of the FRU constitution? In a statement to the South Pacific Stock Exchange in Suva, FHL said the audit was ordered ‘regarding the allegations received against Carl Ngamoki-Cameron [and] is focused on corporate governance related issues’.
- To your knowledge, has Fiji rugby’s interests at the International Rugby Board/World Rugby ever been represented by someone whose rugby loyalty towards Fiji is as compromised as Ngamoki-Cameron’s (who is proud to explain to New Zealand legal clients that his Iwi is Te Whanau a Apanui, Ngai Tahu)? Given your manslaughter conviction and the issues this could cause with visa applications in Australia and New Zealand, have you advised World Rugby and the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions you are unlikely to be able to represent Fiji at World Rugby and FORU meetings during the term of your two-year chairmanship? And, if this is the case, will Ngamoki-Cameron represent the FRU at these meetings, even though on many issues, ie. player eligibility, transfer fees, SANZAR etc., what’s good for his Maori homeland is the exact opposite of what is good for Fiji rugby?
- As the director Legal covering the negotiation of the Vodafone consortium sponsorship agreement at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, has Ngamoki-Cameron justified to the board the many legal issues that would have been avoided if he had done his work properly and professionally and upheld his fiduciary responsibilities? The FRU’s annual general meeting in April 2015 was assured by outgoing board member Dr Esther Williams that, ‘All sponsorship agreements underwent legal vetting’. Presumably this must have been by Ngamoki-Cameron as the FRU’s director Legal. Yet the April 2015 AGM produced more than a dozen binding resolutions on your new FRU board related directly to the controversial Vodafone sponsorship agreement. Are you prepared to release the details of these resolutions or do you want Fijileaks to do this? Does your silence mean you are protecting the incompetent director Legal who drafted the sponsorship agreement, advised the board on the commercial terms and directed the conduct of the-then FRU board members. Ngamoki-Cameron is one of only two remaining members of the board who agreed to the Vodafone sponsorship.
- As director Legal for the 2015 board, did Ngamoki-Cameron draft, prepare or otherwise contribute to the June 12 2015 letter sent in the name of the FRU chief executive officer Radrodro Tabualevu to Vodafone CEO Pradeep Lal. The June 12 letter from the FRU gave Vodafone a 30-day termination notice on the $40m sponsorship agreement, alleging that Vodafone was in breach for failing to account for more than $5 million worth of promised marketing support in the first year of the agreement? Did Ngamoki-Cameron approve the reference in the June 12 letter which described Vodafone’s conduct with the FRU as ‘at best misleading, at worst fraudulent’?
- The June 12 letter was copied to you as chairman, the Prime Minister (as president of the Fiji Rugby Union), the chairman of ATH, the parent company of Vodafone Fiji Ltd, Ajith Kodagoda and Cameron. How shameful was it for you to know that Vodafone Fiji Ltd, owned by ATH, itself is owned by the Fiji National Provident Fund, was being accused of ‘misleading’ the FRU and possibly ‘defrauding’ it? Based on the June 12 letter Fiji Leaks asks whether you accept that the conduct of Irish-owned Digicel was in all respects more professional than of the Fiji-owned Vodafone and its cast of Sri Lankan expatriates.
- Are you confident, looking at the complete sponsorship mess that you inherited when you started as chairman of the FRU in April 2015, that Ngamoki-Cameron, as director Legal, fully discharged his responsibilities under the FRU constitution in terms of the Vodafone sponsorship agreement, specifically 39.1 (a) ‘to ensure that the affairs of Fiji Rugby Union are conducted in accordance with sound principles of corporate governance; (b) to accept that he or she stands in a fiduciary relationship to Fiji Rugby Union, its members and creditors and the Board of Trustees, and agreeing to assume in relation to each of them the same legal duties as are owed by a director of a company to the company, its shareholders and creditors’. For the avoidance of doubt, a fiduciary responsibility was defined by a 2007 Australian court decision: ‘[t]he distinguishing or overriding duty of a fiduciary is the obligation of undivided loyalty’. In all of Ngamoki-Cameron’s dealings on behalf of the FRU, negotiating and vetting the Vodafone consortium sponsorship, are you clear that he has always acted with ‘the obligation of undivided loyalty’ towards the interests of the FRU and its stakeholders including the provincial unions? Why did Ngamoki-Cameron’s legal draftmanship and commercial advice to the board leave the FRU so open to being allegedly mislead or defrauded by Vodafone?
- In the Fiji Sun in February 2014 under the headline ‘Choose Right Sponsor’, you said, ‘On behalf of the Eastern and Northern Unions, we are seeking nothing less than $280,000 per major union (from the Vodafone sponsorship agreement)’. Now that you are chairman of the FRU can you reveal how close you are to fulfilling your promise that each major union receives $280,000 per year from the Vodafone agreement? Is it clear to you why Ngamoki-Cameron, as director Legal, allowed the FRU to issue press releases and to comment, in a deliberately misleading fashion, that the annual value of the sponsorship was $8 million per year when the FRU’s own accounts show that for 2014 it was only $3.1 million?
- In Ngamoki-Cameron’s New Zealand legal references http://enterpriselaw.co.nz/carl-ngamoki-cameron/ the Maori solicitor includes the claim that he lawyered the ‘refinancing of Air Pacific’s fleet of aircraft’. Have you discussed with Ngamoki-Cameron whether he was involved in creating the controversial Dublin-registered corporate entity Waqavuka Financing Ltd in January 2013 as directed by now-discredited Air Pacific CEO Dave Pflieger, who was CEO when Waqavuka was created, and in whose name Air Pacific’s (now Fiji Airways’) three Airbus A330s are registered and the financing arranged?
- Is it true that you, as chairman of the FRU, have insisted that Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan submits to working with two yet-to-be-named 7s selectors even though his employment contract makes clear that he is the sole selector of both the squad and the run-on team? What has Ryan done, in terms of his selections, that would suggest he lacks the ability to pick the best possible squad and run-on team? What would one selector, let alone two additional selectors, contribute to a coach who in only two years has won an IRB 7s Series crown, and more IRB 7s titles than any coach in Fiji’s history?
- Did you – as president of the Suva Rugby Union and in spite of the obvious conflict of interest – make any calls to people working at Rugby House to pressure Ben Ryan into releasing from his Rio 7s build-up programme Aisake Katonibau, Viliame Mata and Emosi Mulevoro so that these three players could play for Suva in the Skipper Cup semifinal against Nadroga last weekend? Do you accept that you knew these three players were working to a specific conditioning programme set by Ryan and that trying to force them into playing for Suva would have been to sacrifice the national interest to service your own narrow Suva rugby agenda? Good luck that Suva lost!
- Did Ben Ryan communicate to the FRU board in June 2015, following adverts in a national newspaper, that if the FRU board insisted on replacing the two 7s team managers, Paula Biu and Ropate Kauvesi who he has worked with over two seasons, then Ryan would resign effective immediately? Why does the FRU board seem insistent by its actions on making Ryan’s job as tough and frustrating as possible?
- And finally, how many members of the Bainimarama/Kean family will be attending the Rugby World Cup? I ask because I know that the Prime Minister’s nephew Inoke Bainimarama has been appointed as the team’s media liaison officer – to the surprise of very many people. There is obviously the potential for the Prime Minister and his wife (your sister, Mary) to attend, for you and a guest to attend, for the FRU development manager Sale Sorovaki and his wife (Frank’s daughter, RubyAnn) to attend, and even the CEO of the Fiji Sports Council (another daughter of Frank, Litiana Loabuka), perhaps in some role as a board member of the Fiji National Sports Commission.
Many thanks for clarifying these points.