Princess Pilolevu out of Tongasat amid company’s ongoing battles in court

As its legal battles continue, Tongasat is now being operated by only one director after the removal of Pilinisesi Pilolevu Tuita as director.

The princess owned Tongasat, which was also known as Friendly Island Satellite Communications limited, after the venture was introduced to her by American businessman Mats Nilson in 1990.

The company is currently being directed by Lucy Anna ‘Ilaiū, a director who was appointed with the Princess in December 2009.

Sēmisi Poanesesi Pānuve, who was also appointed as director in 2009, left the company in November 2015.

According to Tonga’s business registries website ‘Ilaiū was appointed as shareholder in May 2016.

The other shareholder was Nilson Research Corporation, which has owned shares since 2001.

‘Ilaiū held 8000 of the shares while Nilson held 2000.

The departure of the Princess came after the Supreme Court ordered in July that Tongasat and the Kingdom of Tonga had to release to Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva and PSA documents relating to the transfer of US$25,450,000 to Tongasat.

The money was originally paid to the Tongan government as a grant from the Government of the People’s Republic of China

The court decision was a result of a long running legal battle between the Prime Minister and the Princess after Hon. Pōhiva argued that the payment to or for Tongasat was unlawful within the meaning of the Public Finance Management Act.

The original case focused on the payment of the money paid to or for the benefit of Tongasat in around June of 2011.

As part of their attempts to have the money returned to government, the Prime Minister, who began the case when he was in opposition, and the Public Service Association, wanted Tongasat and the Kingdom of Tonga to hand over all documents relating to the transfer.

The judge ordered the company to make a full disclosure about what it holds.

Last month the Supreme Court allowed an appeal by the Ministry of Revenue and Customs against a decision by the Tax Tribunal over a dispute with Tongasat.

The Ministry issued Tongasat with a Consumption Tax assessment for the period July 2006 to March 2015 amounting to just under TP$18 million, not including penalties for late  payment.

Tongasat filed notices of objection to the taxation decision which was accepted by the Tax Tribunal.

However, the Supreme Court ruled the Tribunal was erred in its decision.

Tongasat indicated it would appeal the Supreme Court’s decision.

Kaniva News has been unable to reach Princess Pilolevu or Tongasat for comment.

The main points

  • As its legal battles continue, Tongasat is now being operated by only one director after the removal of Pilinisesi Pilolevu Tuita as director.
  • The princess owned Tongasat, which was also known as Friendly Island Satellite Communications limited, after the venture was introduced to her by American businessman Mats Nilson in 1990.
  • The company is currently being directed by Lucy Anna ‘Ilaiū, a director who was appointed with the Princess in December 2009.
  • The other shareholder is Nilson Research Corporation, which has owned shares since 2001.

For more information 

Tongan Business Registry   

Supreme Court allows Ministry’s appeal on Tongasat tax argument

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