Court orders Tonga’s national rugby league committee to hold election

Tonga’s highest court has ordered the Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) to make sure it will hold its election on July 15.

All current officials must vacate their positions before the election will take place, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said.

The new election will clear the way for the court to remove its order that remains in place preventing the national sporting body from using the TNRL funds for any purpose not authorised by the board.

The judge said he would not make a final order on his ruling in May to audit the financial accounts of the TNRL for the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 financial  years.

The ruling comes after the court had heard in May of serious allegations against the TNRL.

It was alleged that hundreds of thousands of pa’anga are unaccounted for, accounts have remained unaudited for years, the constitution has been violated, fraudulent elections have been held and court orders ignored.

“The 2016 Annual General Meeting of  the TNRL  is to  be held on  15  July  2016 (the meeting)”, Mr Paulsen said.

“The meeting  is  to  proceed  notwithstanding  that  the audited financial balance sheet for the preceding  year (that is 2015) is not available.

“At the meeting all Officers of the TNRL are to vacate their posts and the election of all Officers is to take  place.

“The Secretary  of the TNRL  is to  forthwith  give  notice  of the date, time and venue  of the  meeting to  all  members of the TNRL and to anyone else entitled to attend the meeting under the Constitution of the  TNRL:

According to the five-page ruling the meeting must address the following:

“The business of the meeting.

“Advise  the  members  that  at  the   meeting  all Officers of the TNRL will vacate their posts  and the election of all Officers will be held at the meeting.

“Require  all  nominations  for  Officers  to  be lodged with the Secretary of the TNRL no later than 21 days before the date of the   meeting.

“Except as otherwise expressly stated, the procedures and business of the  meeting  shall be as set out in the Constitution of the  TNRL

“Leave  is reserved to any  party to  apply to vary  or apply for  further  directions  as  to  the conduct of the meeting on 24 hours   notice”.

In regard to an interim ruling he made in May to audit the financial accounts of the TNRL for the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 financial  years, Mr Paulsen said he was not yet in a position to issue final orders on it  “as Counsel are having further discussions with the Tonga Office of the Auditor  General  in relation to the preparation and audit of the financial accounts of the TNLR”.

In April the court issued an interim order preventing the use of  the  funds  of the  TNRL  for any purpose not authorised by the Board pending the election  of Officers.

Mr Paulsen said the order will still “remain  in  effect.  Following the election of Officers either party may apply on notice to discharge those Orders”.

The case was brought to the court by Silivenusi Taumoepeau, Tavake Fangupo and Taufa Fukofuka.

The plaintiffs were President Semisi Sika, Stan Moheloa and the Tonga National Rugby League Incorporated Society.


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