Maluia terminated over suspicious package incident
Francis Maluia, the Customs Officer who allegedly walked out of the Post Office with a parcel which Customs K9 "Tiger" had alerted to, has received a termination letter, according to ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema'o Phil Pili in response to Samoa News questions.
Maluia had refused to have the package examined before leaving the Post Office.
The Treasurer stated the termination letter was sent to Maluia last Friday and he was given three days to respond; however as of Monday, Maluia had yet to respond, said the Treasurer, who further stated that the incident was clearly a violation of local and federal laws.
Fiti Sunia, attorney for Francis Maluia, said he was unaware of the termination letter sent to his client, and efforts to obtain a comment from Maluia himself were unsuccessful as of press time.
Samoa News asked the Treasurer what action, if any, Treasury has taken against the other customs officer who was present when Maluia removed the package.
Falema’o said the two officers along with their supervisor will be dealt with at a later time, given that this was not reported to Chief Customs Officer Glen Lefiti until the next day.
The Customs officers had not attempted to contact the police to confiscate the package that was removed.
The Treasurer told Samoa News this is a serious issue, however he’s cautious about it, given the need to protect the integrity of the Customs and Treasury offices. He said, “this is very serious given the magnitude behind this. It could have a ripple effect within the organization. When there’s contraband involved, if there was, it’s a matter that is very serious,” said Falema'o.
As reported earlier, the Treasurer said he was informed by Chief of Customs Lefiti that the Customs officer had allegedly picked up and signed for a parcel (box) that had been under surveillance for 30 days by the Customs Office as the result of the K-9’s routine check at the Post Office.
It is alleged the parcel contained contraband and yet Maluia bypassed all the Customs check points after retrieving the parcel — which was not even addressed to Maluia. This incident led to the government moving to terminate Lefiti as the Chief Customs, noting that he failed to report this matter right away to the Treasurer.
Lefiti petitioned his removal through the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and following a three- day hearing into Lefiti’s matter, ALJ Toetagata Albert Mailo ordered Lefiti be reinstated immediately as Chief Customs Officer, and in addition within the first 6 months of his reinstatement a 30-day suspension.
The ALJ noted that although Lefiti “committed negligence and gross misjudgment” in his work performance by not reporting Customs Officer Francis Maluia to the Treasurer… the court concludes “termination is not appropriate in this case” but that “suspension is a more appropriate punishment”.
Samoa News understands the Treasurer was only made aware of this matter after Samoa News approached him questioning the incident.
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