Opposition call on Attorney General to charge Finance Minister

by Lagi Keresoma

APIA: TUESDAY 22ND MAY 2013: Minister of Finance Faumuina Tiatia Liuga has acted illegally and the Attorney General should file charges against him.

At a media conference today Opposition leader Palusalue Fa’apo II led a call by his Tautua Samoa Party for the Attorney General to come out of “hiding” because Faumuina stands accused by his own party of mismanagement of public funds.

“The AG is hiding when he should be spearheading an investigation into the Minister’s behaviour,” Levaopolo Talatonu, one of Tautua’s MPs at today’s conference said.

A widely reported letter by MPs of the Human Rights Protection Party to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, which lists allegations against the Finance Minister, was referred to by the Opposition today.

One was the “unauthorised” sum which Faumuina used for his new office of money $600 000, Tautua says.

The Finance Management Act 2011, section 111(c) says: Every Cabinet Ministers need an authorization from Cabinet for the use of over $500,000.”

Palusalue said charges were filed against Tautua MPs Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster and Levaopolo Talatonu based on the advice of the Attorney General.

There are offences under the Public Finance Management Act 2001 that Faumuina is liable to be charged under, said Levaopolo.

He called on the AG to treat every citizen of Samoa equally.

“I know he advised the Ministry of Revenue to charge me,” said Levaopolo, who faces charges in the District Court in relation to the alleged importation of illegal whisky.

“Why is he not advising the Ministry of Finance to charge Faumuina?” he said.

“Faumuina left his previous portfolio as Minister of Samoa Land Corporation (SLC) with the corporation’s vehicle which was given and used by his wife,” said Levaopolo.

He was referring to another of the allegations made against the Finance Minister by his opponents in the HRPP caucus.

Under the Public Management Act 2001 g(ii), it is considered an “improper act.”

Palusalue said the allegations against the minister should not have been dealt with by the HRPP caucus and the Prime Minister but should have been referred to the Court.

“Only the Court can declare him (Faumuina) right or wrong,” he said.

Parliament reassembles next week for the Minister of Finance to announce the budget.

“There is no more trust in the Minister of Finance,” said Palusalue.

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