A daughter of former Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Sāmiu Vaipulu has responded to allegations posted online with a photo of her father sitting on a sofa beside a bag full of what appear to be bundles of dollars.
Sisi Vaipulu denied allegations on Facebook that the photo was taken when Chinese buyers made a deal with Sāmiu to secretly buy Tongan passports.
She said the money was $200,000 paid to her father by investors who wanted to buy shares in Tonga Airways.
The airline was partly owned by the Vaipulus and some foreign investors.
The airline claimed it would provide a second air service for Tonga with cheaper airfares than the existing operator, Real Tonga.
Sisi said the money was used to pay staff who had worked for the company without pay since August 2015 and to pay off money they borrowed to pay for the processing of the company’s license.
She said their family spent $500,000 on the company before receiving the $200,000 from the interested investors.
She said the payment of the $200,000 was made in about May 10, 2016 after Clive Edwards contacted Sāmiu and told him his son, David Edwards, and some Chinese investors including investor De Feng Mo wanted to meet him to invest in the airline.
Sisi said they spent all their family savings in the business and all the investors’ money before the investors left the company after the application for the license was declined.
She said she suspected the photo came from De Feng Mo.
Sisi said De took photos to prove to the Chinese investors he paid the money to Sāmiu.
In the photo, in question, Sāmiu is sitting with both legs crossed, with the bundles of money beside him.
Another photo in circulation shows a close up of the money.
Sisi said the accusations against her father, who is a Vava’u 15’s candidate running for Parliament in next month’s snap election, was something they were familiar with, especially at election time.
Towards December 2016 Tonga Airways announced its intention to operate domestic flights.
However, the Minister of Civil Aviation rejected the company’s application for a license, saying two airlines to serve the local flight was too much.
Sisi told Kaniva News the cancellation was a huge blow to their family and the investors because they already had spent about half a million in hiring pilots, trainings and processing various certificates and paper works including assessment processes in Vanuatu.
New investors invested more money, but the government still did not offer an Air Operator Certificate, an emotional Sisi said.
She said after their airline business failed, she and her father concentrated on running their law office services.
The main points
- A daughter of former Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Sāmiu Vaipulu has responded to allegations posted online with a photo of her father sitting on a sofa beside a bag full of what appear to be bundles of dollars.
- Sisi Vaipulu denied allegations on Facebook that the money in the photo was taken when Chinese buyers made a deal with Sāmiu to secretly buy Tongan passports.
- She said the money was $200,000 paid to her father by investors who wanted to buy shares in Tonga Airways.
- The airline was partly owned by the Vaipulus and some foreign investors.
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