NZ lawyer and mediator is Tonga’s new anti-corruption commissioner

By and is republished with permission.

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni confirmed LaHatte’s appointment in Parliament last week. It follows King Tupou VI’s approval in a Privy Council meeting two weeks ago.

James Christopher LaHatte Photo: / @ChrisLaHatte

LaHatte will take up his four-year posting on 1 July.

“This is a great milestone for Tonga now with the appointment of the first anti-corruption commissioner for the Kingdom,” Hu’akavameiliku said.

The Anti-Corruption Commission Act was first enacted in Parliament in 2007.

But Parliament only passed the Anti-Corruption Bill in February 2023, after Hu’akavameiliku and his government pushed it through, which allowed for the setting up of the anti-corruption watchdog.

Hu’akavameiliku told local media the government is now working on finalising staff for the Tonga Anti-corruption Commission office.

LaHatte has been a practising ombudsman, mediator, and lawyer in New Zealand and overseas for over 40 years.

His LinkedIn account said he has wide range of experience in litigation, and has practised both as a litigation solicitor and a barrister for most of his career.

He also has international experience including as the director of claims for the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation as in-house advocate.

He has also served in Kazakhstan on international litigation and arbitration.

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