High Commissioner refutes gov’t claim
THE country’s high commissioner to Fiji, Patterson Oti, has denied claims he introduced the controversial Jason Liu Tao and his Skyline Company to the government.
The Prime Minister’s Office claimed the highly suspicious Asian company was introduced to them by Mr Oti.
But speaking before boarding his flight for Nadi yesterday afternoon, Mr Oti said his office in Suva only facilitates the process bounded under their obligations to serve foreigners who want to travel to Solomon Islands.
“My involvement in the Skyline issue was not about persuading or influencing the government to accept and signed MOU with the company for any national project,” Mr Oti explained.
“Rather it was a normal duty of the High Commission to help foreigners that want to travel to the Solomons by filling up immigration forms for visa and permits,” he added.
“This is a normal duty of the High Commission for any foreigner and that definitely what we did for those Asians who came with their Skyline Company.
“I have no idea about the company’s background or how far their establishment in Fiji has progressed,” Mr Oti said.
He added he only knew about the company’s existence in Fiji when they drove past Navua hospital, where opposite to it is the proposed land by Skyline firm for development, where only the company’s flag could be seen on the site.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary earlier said Skyline “was introduced to them by the Solomon Islands High Commission in Fiji, who knew this group well and recommended them to meet the government”.
The questionable Asian company has promised to upgrade Honiara International Airport and rehabilitate the main road from Henderson to the city.
The government had also engaged the company to build 5000 homes for the government in the next four years.
But the company’s integrity and reputation was thrown into question when reports from China surfaced, accusing Mr Tao of defrauding up to 50,000 Chinese investors in a scam.
Mr Tao also left behind an unpaid bill of more than $78,000 at Heritage Park Hotel where he occupied for a month, and left without informing the hotel management.
Part of the hotel bill has since been settled by Mr Tao’s business partner, who traveled from Fiji to Honiara last week.
Mr Oti’s denial of introducing Skyline to the government is likely to put further dent into the reputation of Skyline as a genuine investor.
By AATAI JOHN