‘Fresh evidence’ accepted

The Court of Appeal yesterday accepted “fresh evidence” in an appeal being brought by Kirita Maria Kolotita Pune against the former Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai. 

The elderly mother had initially lodged a complaint against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) and the former Attorney General over a dispute relating to the transfer of a piece of land at Tuloto. 

Aumua is being accused of breaching his fiduciary duty owed to the plaintiff when he allegedly advised M.N.R.E. to remove the caveat on the piece of land in question.  Pune claims that the breach constitutes an alleged conflict of interest since Aumua is a shareholder in the company that purchased the land.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Pune’s lawyer, Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe, tendered new evidence of emails from Aumua.

Aumua is being represented by Australian barrister, Peter Lithgow and Fiona Ey.

In tendering the evidence, Leulua’iali’i made reference to an email dated 19th December 2013 from the then Attorney General.

She argued that the email was a breach of his fiduciary duty when he allegedly asked for a “favour" and "to action this promptly”. 

Justice Robert Fisher allowed the evidence. 

He said “the fresh evidence reaffirms a concern by the client about Mr. Leung Wai’s influence as his position of Attorney General".

Justice Fisher pointed out they are now placed in a better position as opposed to the Supreme Court, with the email being made available. 

Leulua’iali’i told the Court the former Attorney General had influenced the decision when he wrote “I need a favour and we are trying to buy land that Herman wrote to you about and quick action.”

But Justice Fisher was not convinced. He questioned the lawyer if what Mr. Leung Wai was simply saying was that I would appreciate if you assist in this matter with the caveat.

“Do you agree with me that Mr. Leung Wai is saying I ask that you get on with doing what you are required to do,” Justice Fisher asked Leulua’iali’i. 

She agreed but stressed that the question is who is the caveator if the owner of the land had died. 

“It is my submission that the Attorney General had directed the removal of the caveat.”

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, who is also sitting on the Court of Appeal, disagreed. 

Judging from the email, Justice Vui said it suggests that Aumua had asked them to action the request and not give direction. 

Mr. Lithgow said the interpretation of the emails were not accurate. 

He made reference to several other emails where Aumua had made it clear he had a conflict of interest and that he would refer this to Muriel Lui, who is the Assistant Attorney General. 

“He was telling Filisita that clearly there is a problem and formed a view he needed to hand it over to Muriel,” Mr. Lithgow said.

“It shows that Mr. Leung Wai dropped out and the matter was handed over.” 

Justice Fisher said there is a strong chance the decision will be reserved, when the Court of Appeal sitting for this week ends today.

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