FRU Lottery Press Release
08 January, 2011
The following is a media statement from the Fiji Rugby Union chief executive oficer, Keni Dakuidreketi, with regard recent events relating to the FRU Lottery.
On 1 January 2011, the Commerce Commission chairman, Dr Reddy, issued a letter to FRU and distributed it widely to the media, giving it a so-called “directive” to take certain actions with regard to the FRU lottery. This began a farcical chain of events in which the Commission has acted unlawfully and with little regard to anything except self-promotion.
Dr Reddy’s 1 January letter invited FRU to contact him if FRU had any queries. On 4 January 2011 FRU’s lawyers sent a seven-page letter of queries. They told the Commission that it had issued its so-called directive without even discussing its accusations with FRU. They told the Commission that it had no legal power to issue its directive. They also told the Commission it has no jurisdiction over a lottery. The Commission only has jurisdiction over matters “in trade and commerce”. Lotteries are governed by the gaming laws. That is why the gaming laws exist.
The Commission did not respond to that letter. Instead it served a search warrant on FRU. First, however, it sent two of its Indo-Fijian officers into FRU “under cover”. They told FRU office staff they were interested in forming an Indo-Fijian rugby team. The reasons for these tactics – which were perhaps learned from a bad spy movie – are not clear. Legal action is being taken over this search warrant.
The Commission complains that it had to execute the search warrant because FRU had hired lawyers. Apparently the Commission now believes that seeking legal advice is now itself a crime.
The Commission then sent an email to FRU’s CEO, Mr. Dakuidreketi, late on Wednesday night inviting FRU to a “preliminary” meeting at 1pm today Thursday 6th January “without lawyers.” By mid-morning today, the media was reporting this as a “summons” to meet the Commission. FRU’s lawyers responded that the “preliminary” meeting should be held with the lawyers because the first thing to be decided was what the Commission’s legal powers were.
FRU’s legal advice is that it is not against the law to discount the prices of lottery tickets. This also seems to be the view of the Government under the gaming legislation. The Commission however seems to have other ideas. It is threatening to fine FRU $125,000. It does not have the power to do this either. It may prosecute an offender and ask a court to impose a fine. It cannot do this by itself.
The most disturbing aspect of this whole saga is the Commission’s unending appetite for publicity. It has a legal responsibility to investigate any alleged offence in a fair and reasonable way, particularly when it is on notice that it may not even have legal powers to do so. It should not be conducting a trial by media. FRU suggests the Commission do the sensible thing and have an open discussion with FRU – and its lawyers – about what it is doing.