AG's office on the hunt for IP vehicle and equipment
The Attorney General’s Office is in the process of collecting all the items that were used at the Independent prosecutor’s office when it was set up in 2009. The items include a Ford SUV, furniture, computers, cabinets, chairs, bookshelves and other office equipment.
Samoa News understands that Independent Prosecutor Fa’amomoi Masaniai transferred the IP’s Ford SUV to the Public Defender’s office along with the computers and office equipment, and there was also some equipment transferred to other government agencies.
Deputy Director of Property Management Ino Vitale said his office approved the transfer, however he was not aware the items that were transferred from the IP’s office belonged to the AG’s office.
Vitale said “I received a letter from Masaniai indicating that the IP’s vehicle be transferred to the Public Defender’s office with other equipment — however the transfer was illegal, because the account in which these items were purchased is under the Attorney General’s office.”
Attorney General Fepulea’i Arthur Ripley said he was not aware that Masaniai, who has left the territory assisting the Department of Justice, but is still serving as IP, had transferred the vehicle and other equipment to other government agencies.
“Masaniai has no authority to transfer those properties, they belong to the AG’s office, because those items were bought from the AG’s office budget and should be returned to the AG’s office”, said Fepulea’i.
The AG added that statutes indicate that all of the IP's costs would be covered by the AG's office, which means the items belong to the AG’s office and Masaniai cannot be transferring them to other government agencies.
The AG added that his office is still looking for office equipment that Masaniai had transferred to other government agencies.
Public Defender Ruth Risch Fuatagavi has confirmed with Samoa News that her office has the IP’s vehicle. She added that property management had transferred the vehicle to the Public Defender’s office. Fuatagavi also indicated that the PD’s office has no budget for a vehicle and this vehicle is of great help to them.
(Samoa News notes that Fuatagavi is Masaniai’s sister-in-law.)
Queries to Masaniai via e-mail remained unanswered at press time.