Madness of Khaiyum’s Fiji TV attack as Hari Punja backs Fiji TV employment lawsuits against the company he owns 26 percent of!
FijiLeaks has been told that former Fiji TV CEO Tevita Gonelevu has hired Filimoni Vosarogo of Mamlakah Lawyers to handle his expected Employment Tribunal case against the Fijian Holdings-owned broadcaster from which he was dismissed on Tuesday. The station’s head of content Tanya Waqanika, also sacked, is working with Jon Apted of Munro Leys.
Both dismissed executives have been assured of the 100 percent support of Hari Punja – who holds 26 percent of Fiji TV’s shares and two board nominations. Punja has said he will make sure that all communications shared amongst the board members available to be used in the tribunal actions, which will ensure maximum embarrassment to the craven leadership of Fijian Holdings, majority owners.
There is also the prospect of Punja, his son Ajay, and the Punja-appointed deputy chairman Gary Callaghan, testifying in support of their lawsuits against Fiji TV.
And it’s hard to overstate the strength of their employment tribunal cases, even without Punja’s determined support.
Fijian Holdings chairman Iowane Naiveli has already admitted to the media the two were sacrificed, the sackings part of a deliberate attempt to ingratiate the station with the government and the vengeful and petty Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum. Even the disliked Nouzab Fareed, Fijian Holdings CEO, admitted to FBC News neither of them was sacked for cause or breach of contract:
‘’I can categorically say that there is no breach of contract; you don’t need to breach a contract to go home’’
Waqanika and Apted worked together on the popular Vodafone MIC reality show, on which Apted has been an out-spoken, popular judge. Ironically Vosarogo worked with the Attorney-General Khaiyum as director of the Legal Aid Commission until 2009 but since then has worked as a defence lawyer for a number of clients who have tangled with the military regime including Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, Pita Driti, and the Sri Lankan born Jagath Karunaratne.
EARLIER story: Hari Punja loyalist quits Fiji TV board as anti-business crisis deepens; chairman, deputy, CEO and head of content leave in Khaiyum’s three-week reign of terror
Aiyaz Khaiyum has been responsible for a number of decrees that have benefitted his brother Riyaz – CEO of the heavily-indebted FBC TV – by stripping Fiji TV of valuable exclusive sports rights and limiting their station’s licence to a mere 6 months, versus the 12-year licence held by FBC.
Punja owns more than a quarter of the company’s shares through his Hari Punja and Sons Ltd corporate vehicle and Callaghan was a Punja-appointed company director. In the 2013 annual report Callaghan is listed as executive director of Dominion Insurance, which Punja owned until earlier this year, and he continues to hold directorships in a number of Punja companies including FMF Food Ltd and Rice Company of Fiji.
It’s not clear if Ajay Punja – a son of Hari and also a Fiji TV director, according to the latest annual report – has also resigned.
Callaghan’s resignation means that both Fiji TV’s chairman – Padam Lala – and deputy chairman have quit, and the station’s CEO and head of content fired, in the almost three weeks since the government forced a ridiculous confrontation with World Rugby Ltd/IRB over the telecast rights to the 7s Series.
The 7s Series (Fiji TV) and FIFA World Cup 2014 (MAI TV) where the first events captured by Aiyaz Khaiyum’s much-derided Television (Cross-Carriage of Designated Events) Decree 2014 which, from May this year, forces exclusive sports rights for certain big events to be shared, with FBC TV the clear winner.
The decree benefits FBC TV by giving Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s channel access to live sport on the cheap (Fiji TV has been instructed by the Aiyaz Khaiyum to pay for 90 percent of the new IRB 7s deal and only 10 percent for FBC), and denying the exclusive rights to the station’s competitors.
It also neatly sidesteps FBC’s increasing reputation for late-or non-payment as the station struggles to pay estimated monthly dues of $300,000 in principal and interest against $22m borrowed from the Fiji Development Bank. Under the new arrangements for the 7s Series, dictated by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Khaiyum, it is Fiji TV’s responsibility to pay the whole rights fee of USD$129,000 (in foreign currency) to World Rugby Ltd/IRB, and claim back from FBC TV the 10 percent owed in Fiji dollars.
Fiji TV’s majority shareholder – Fijian Holdings, FHL, which owns 61 percent of the station – has led the discussions with the Aiyaz Khaiyum through the 7s Series standoff which saw no coverage of the Dubai 7s and only a last-minute deal cobbled together to save the face of the Sayed-Khaiyums' for last weekend’s tournament. The station’s latest six-month licence expires on December 31.
The first explanation of this week’s shock sacking of CEO Tevita Gonelevu (who had been FHL’s company secretary until last year) and the much respected Tanya Waqanika was made by Fijian Holdings’ chief executive Nouzab Fareed, one of a number of Sri Lankan management figures in key companies like ATH and Vodafone that have cosied up to the regime.
Fareed tried to defend the indefensible sacking of the two senior executives with typical empty management-speak nonsense, that plainly showed he was prepared to be as disingenuous and ruthless as Aiyaz Khaiyum with long-standing and loyal employees.
’We always want the company to do well and to make sure it does much better then what we wanted, in terms of dividends, in terms of returns, in terms of performance so it is a standard approach, and if we feel we want to do better and need increase the efficiency and effectiveness and of a given company, it is standard approach to re-structure the company.’
It was left to FHL chairman (and new Fiji TV chairman) Iowane Naiveli to admit what everybody understood: Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum had made crushing Fiji TV’s management and humiliating the company’s shareholders a key condition of any possible licence extension.
As Naiveli told the Fiji Times, "Fiji TV's licence expires at the end of the year and now we can go to Government and say we have made changes to management and, hopefully, get longer term licences.”
FIJILEAKS: WHERE DID KHAIYUM GET THE POWER FROM TO HOLD FIJI TV TO RANSOM?
MARCHING ORDERS? Meanwhile, Government House sources say Khaiyum has also given President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and his wife Adi Koila Mara TWO WEEKS TO PACK AND GET OUT IN THE NEW YEAR!