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    TONGAN CROWN PRINCE PRODUCING TV DOCUMENTARY IN MONGOLIA By Michael Field AUCKLAND, New Zealand (January 18, 2002 - Agence France-Presse)---Complete with pith
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2002
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      TONGAN CROWN PRINCE PRODUCING TV DOCUMENTARY IN MONGOLIA

      By Michael Field

      AUCKLAND, New Zealand (January 18, 2002 - Agence France-Presse)---Complete
      with pith helmet and goggles, Tonga's bachelor Crown Prince Tupouto'a is
      making a television documentary about remote Mongolian tribesmen, the
      Matangi Tonga monthly news magazine reported Friday.

      In Olgivy, in the western most province of Mongolia, Tupouto'a, 53, found
      locals who use eagles to hunt, according to the report, and is filming their
      activities.

      The royal had insisted on his "practical" pith helmet and goggles outfit to
      cope with the demands of the job.

      "In one day we flew in a place, drove in a jeep and rode horses in order to
      reach our destination," he said, justifying the get up.

      He said the documentary, "The Lost Tribesmen," started as a hobby but added,
      "I now believe it owns me."

      PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

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


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----

      GROWING SPECULATION OVER TONGAN KING'S SECRET WEALTH

      By Michael Field

      AUCKLAND, New Zealand (January 18, 2002 - Agence France-Presse)---The
      83-year-old king of the impoverished Pacific nation of Tonga has US$ 350
      million stashed in a secret bank account, a Tongan democracy movement
      newspaper alleged Friday.

      King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's palace in Nuku'alofa declined to comment on the
      latest reports published in Kele'a, a newspaper edited by commoner Member of
      Parliament 'Akilisi Pohiva.

      Kele'a published a palace letter commenting on the king's "personal funds"
      said to be worth over US$ 350 million.

      Given that the kingdom's official gross domestic product is US$ 225 million,
      and the royal controlled government's latest budget just 87 million pa'anga
      (US$ 23 million), it has not been explained where the money might have come
      from.

      But last month the palace used the government-owned Tonga Chronicle to claim
      a Tongan national living in Australia was blackmailing the king over gold
      bullion allegedly taken from the 1806 wreck of an English sailing ship. The
      gold was said to be worth billions of dollars.

      The king has also come under severe scrutiny after his official court
      jester, American Buddhist Jesse Bogdonoff, lost around 26 million dollars of
      royal controlled funds taken out of U.S. Treasury bonds and put into a now
      disappeared Nevada viatical investment company.

      Kele'a Friday published what it said was a November 8, 1991, letter written
      by the king's private secretary, then the late Ofa Tuionetoa, to a local
      Japanese man, Charlie Onodera, who served as the king's financial adviser
      before his death.

      "I wish to confirm the arrangement made between yourself, in your capacity
      as liaison officer to His Majesty, and His Majesty... this afternoon," the
      letter printed in the newspaper said.

      "First to promote foreign investment in the kingdom, you are to act as
      financial adviser to his Majesty.

      "... His Majesty's 'Top Secret' account numbers with the overseas bank have
      been given to you. Please do remember that these are very confidential.

      "...His Majesty's personal funds, as revealed to you, is in the vicinity of
      over 350 million US dollars."

      "Thank you very much again for your dedicated service to His Majesty."

      The newspaper said Pohiva, who leads the pro-democracy movement in the
      kingdom, had twice sought a response, on Legislative Assembly letterhead,
      from the king and his staff. There was no response.

      As a near absolute monarch, the king and nobles control two-thirds of the
      assembly.

      The Tongan government referred inquiries to the king's private secretary.
      E-mail questions from AFP to his address were receipted but have not been
      replied to.

      The monthly Matangi Tonga news magazine, received here Friday, carried an
      interview with the king in which the question of a blackmail attempt was put
      to him.

      The royal family claimed a Tongan, Josh Liava'a, now a Sydney nightclub
      owner, tried to extort two million dollars from the king to keep secret
      details about the shipwreck.

      A decade ago Liava'a had an affair with the king's only daughter, Princess
      Pilolevu Tuita, who wrote graphic love letters to him. The letters were
      recently published in the kingdom.

      Matangi Tonga put the blackmail allegations to the King who replied: "It is
      just a story."

      Matangi Tonga also asked Crown Prince Tupouto'a how the issue should be
      handled.

      "I am sure that His Majesty is as interested as anyone to learn about this
      secret information and the only possible course of action would be to ask
      Liava'a to reveal it.

      "It would also be important to establish whether or not Liava'a is mentally
      competent."

      Michael Field
      New Zealand/South Pacific Correspondent
      Agence France-Presse
      E-mail: afp.nz@...
      Phone: (64 21) 688438
      Fax: (64 21) 694035
      Website: http://www.afp.com/english/
      Website: http://www.michaelfield.org
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