More time for Parliamentary probe into Customs

The Customs Department office in the main wharf

The Customs Department office in the main wharf

by Alan Ah Mu

APIA: TUESDAY 6 AUGUST 2013: A parliamentary probe into an allegation of dishonesty in Customs was today extended by three months.

Parliament granted the extension after chairman of the Special Investigating Committee tasked with the probe, Lautafi Fio Purcell, asked for more time.

The task appeared easy but it wasn’t, Lautafi told Parliament.

Opposition MP Levaopolo Talatonu made the allegation in Parliament saying over $1 billion could be earned if Customs was honest in collecting revenue.

Prior to that Customs laid charges against Levaopolo, who is next to appear in court in September.

Lautafi said the committee will await the outcome of the court action against the MP.

Strip - Maota

Given the task in June his committee was scheduled to hand Parliament a report of its findings today.

They didn’t want to hand Parliament an incomplete report, the chairman said.

Seven MPs and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Fepulea’i A. M. Ropati make up the eight-member investigating committee.

Lautafi, Taefu Lemi, Tialavea Tionisio Seigafolava and Tuisa  Tasi Patea are the Government MPs on the committee with Papali’i Li’o Masepa’u, Lefau Harry Schuster and Afualo Wood Salele the Opposition members.