Mohammed Rizwan

This file photo shows the members of the Commission of Inquiry when it was first announced. Mohammed Rizwan is circled in red, standing to the right of Justice Minister, Ronald Warsal.

The Acting Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MOJCS), Pacco Siri, has responded to the European Development Fund (EDF) Commission of Inquiry (CoI’s) decision to remove its Secretary, Mohammed Rizwan.

Daily Post’s front page article yesterday contained information in a letter from the CoI, asking Mr.Rizwan to provide a Police Clearance from the Fiji Islands Police, before attending any CoI meeting.

Chairman of the CoI, Edward Nalyal, had recommended the removal of Mr Rizwan since September this year.

The CoI chairman said the letter was produced, after an hour’s consultation with Minister Warsal.

Senior police officers in the Vanuatu Police Force alleged the Fijian has pending criminal cases in the Fiji High Court.

They also confirmed the Secretary of CoI has three criminal cases registered with State Prosecutions in Vanuatu.

Mr Siri, however, claimed Mr. Rizwan was cleared by the Fijian authorities in 2015.

He said the allegations against Rizwan will not affect the current work of the CoI, and it is anticipated that the CoI report will be produced sometimes this month.

He said to protect the integrity and due process of the EDF CoI, like any CoI, it was agreed that the member concerned “clear the air around them prior to him taking part further despite his prolific professional qualification, sound experience as a financial person” and having been cleared in Fiji.

“He was not sacked as reported,” said Mr Siri.

“The EDF CoI will be finished as mandated by the Council of Ministers (CoM) and a report will be made public, as soon as the EDF CoI completes its tasks.”

He said given the current Government’s policy in fighting corruption, providing good governance, upholding the rule of law, the sensitivity and importance of all issues involved with CoIs such as the EDF CoI, the government has always appointed people with credibility and integrity, competence and with requisite qualification to be members of a CoI.

He said that every member appointed to the CoI are persons with integrity, credibility with relevant professional qualification and experience to undertake the task of inquiry.

But CoI chairman, Nalyal said the criminal cases against Rizwan are on the PacLII website and Mr Siri has put his position into question, by defending someone whose background he may not really know.

Mr. Nalyal said evidence alleges that Rizwan was implicated in numerous counts of fraud and other related offences in Fiji and he is not confident in the work the CoI is doing, with him on board.

He said all the CoI wanted is for Rizwan to provide a recent Police Clearance and any citizenship number he may have back in Fiji.

Mr. Nalyal said the acting DG should not contradict himself, as he was aware that the removal letter that was addressed to Rizwan, was also based on his view.

The letter reads: ‘Pending the delivery of the valid Police Clearance by you to the Minister as Chairman of the EDF CoI, in consultation with the said Director General, and in accord with the Minister’s instruction, as previously conveyed to you, effective immediately, you are not allowed to attend any more meetings of the CoI’.

Meanwhile, Rizwan called yesterday, claiming that he did not receive any letter from the CoI.

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