SIC postpones $20 MIL loan hearing, ASG can't find docs
The Senate Investigative Committee agreed to continue to next week its probe into the spending of the $20 million loan ASG received from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund, to allow the government time to provide subpoenaed documents and give SIC members time to review documents received so far.
ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i and the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, Toetasi F. Tuiteleleapaga appeared yesterday before the SIC in response to the subpoenas they received July 11.
The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Pati Faiai, who was also served with a subpoena on July 11, did not appear because he was off-island at the time the subpoena was delivered and therefore, he is considered not served.
Both witnesses were required to also provide subpoenaed documents. Magalei provided documents which included the latest update on expenditures of the $20 million for the period of Apr. 25, 2012 to July 18, 2012.
Also subpoenaed are all supporting documents for each transaction, expenditure, or credit.
For Tuiteleleapaga, who was required to provide various documents, he told the committee he was unable to provide the documents. He explained that there was a leak over the weekend on the 3rd floor of the A.P. Lutali Executive Office Building and water got into the Governor’s Office.
He said file cabinets were moved around and therefore he could not immediately locate files for the documents sought by the subpoena. He promised to get those documents together and provide a file to the SIC, whose chairman Sen. Lualemaga Faoa said would like to receive it by next Tuesday.
(Samoa News notes Gov. Togiola Tulafono during his remarks at the ASTCA new building dedication, two weeks ago, said the leaking roof of the EOB is fixed, in response to Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s reasons for moving out of EOB and into the new ASTCA building.)
With missing documents and the need to review reports from the treasurer, Lualemaga asked SIC members for their recommendations on whether or not to continue the hearing.
SIC vice chair Sen. Velega Savali Jr. said his problem with continuing the hearing is that there are no documents to review in advance or to look at when questioning the witnesses. However, he said the final decision rests with the majority of the SIC membership.
Sen. Mauga T. Asuega agreed with Velega, saying more time is needed to review documents provided by Magalei and this was also echoed by Sen. Fuamatu J.V. Fuamatu, who added that he, too, would prefer to review the reports first.
The SIC members were also concerned about having to call back witnesses, who also have their own work loads. Velega said this is not the first time for a hearing on the $20 million loan, and witnesses will end up being called back again.
Lualemaga concurred with Velega about the witnesses being recalled, and the SIC agreed to postpone the hearing until 9 a.m. Tuesday. When asked by Lualemaga if Tuesday was okay with their schedule, the witnesses appeared to reluctantly agree, with Magalei saying that the witnesses will comply with SIC.
The witnesses were also told that their current subpoenas are still valid and therefore no new ones will be issued for Tuesday’s hearing.
Among the documents subpoenaed from the governor’s office are records of the loan for the period of Jun. 1, 2006 to July 18, 2012. The SIC is also seeking all communication and directives establishing the position or office to manage disbursement and oversee administration of $3 million in Loan proceeds appropriated for the separate Districts. (Each district - Manu’a, Western and Eastern - were allocated $1 million from the loan for their specific capital improvement projects).
A report by the ASG Budget Office given to the SIC in March this year shows that 16 projects were funded with the loan money and only $1.21 million is left to be expended.