Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i


By Tu‘isoso

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (February 16, 2002 – Tonga Chronicle)---His Majesty, King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV, has, in an exclusive interview with The Tonga Chronicle on Monday, denied allegations made by Tongatapu No. 1 People’s Representative to Parliament Mr. Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, claiming that the 83 year-old monarch has some US$ 350 million deposited in a secret bank account overseas.

The allegations by Mr. Pohiva, a leading pro-democracy activist who is also publisher/editor of the periodical "Ko e Kele‘a," is the latest of a series of such claims made against the monarch when he published, in the Nov.-Dec. 2001 edition of "Ko e Kele‘a," a letter which he alleged to have been written by the late ‘Ofa Tu‘i‘onetoa dated Nov. 8, 1991 in his capacity as Private Secretary to His Majesty, to the late Charlie Onodera, reminding the latter that he has been appointed as His Majesty’s financial advisor, and that the money is in the vicinity of US$ 350 million, and that he also has get the secret codes of the alleged account, when in fact Tu‘i‘onetoa at the time was an Acting Private Secretary to His Majesty.

Tu‘i‘onetoa’s signature in the controversial letter cannot be compared to that of his own as filed at the Palace Office.

However, His Majesty responded to The Tonga Chronicle that "there is no truth in that story, and I don’t have such amount of money."

"How can we possibly believe such story without solid proof?"

"An untrue story being publicized prior to checking for its truths, can only rock the public with doubt, but one should not confuse the public with his own confusions," the King responded.

When asked whether he has a secret bank account with US$ 350 million deposited in it somewhere outside the Kingdom, and that the claim alleged that the money came as proceeds of gold bullion found somewhere in Ha‘ano, the monarch said that is untrue. "There is no such money, and no secret bank account. There was no money or gold found in the search in Ha‘ano. No, nothing."

"When I was very young and Mailefihi* was still alive, I just heard that only a single gold bar was found at Tau‘akipulu, Ha‘apai when diggers worked on building a cement water tank," the King said, and added that "I did not know who got that bar of gold nor do who kept it." (* Mailefihi is the present King’s father).

The King also told The Tonga Chronicle that he only has one bank account outside Tonga and that is with the Bank of Hawaii where proceeds from his vanilla beans export business were being deposited, but that amount is nowhere near that untrue million dollar lump sum that is being spread around.

Concerning the accusations made by the New Zealand Associate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Matt Robson, who said that there is endemic corruption in Tonga, saying his country gives NZ$ 6 million in aid each year but it entrenches the privilege elite, the King said it is most appropriate for Minister Robson to get solid proof of his accusations, because aid money is directed to certain projects which both country have consented to under agreement.

His Majesty also denied another accusations that there is corruption of power in the Royal House, especially Crown Prince Tupouto‘a and Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu Tuita, who operates businesses that should have been state-owned. The monarch said that their businesses operate with their own money, and that they enjoy the same freedom to own and operate businesses as other Tongans.

"It is very important to work hard in areas that would benefit us all, and not unconditionally criticize others," said His Majesty.


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