Former Customs chief gets temporary assignment

Treasury Department has not reinstated Vaetagaloa Glen Lefiti to his old position as Chief Customs Officer, rather he’s assigned temporarily to work in the Analytic Unit under the Department of Treasury (DOT), says Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Pili.

 

he Analytic Division is a newly formed unit purposed to analyze revenue trends, track sources of revenue and make recommendations for ways to increase revenue and improve collections, says the Treasurer, responding from off island.

 

Samoa News sent queries to Sharron Rancourt, for a comment on her client’s behalf but she had yet to respond as of press time.

 

Falema’o, in an email to Samoa News noted that there is an ongoing investigation within Customs at the moment but declined to go into detail. Acting Treasurer and Acting Chief Customs Officer, Matthew Grady, who is Treasury’s Comptroller, told Samoa News that Vaetagaloa has been temporarily assigned to the Analytic Unit.

 

In other developments in Customs — a division of DOT, Samoa News understands that Captain Pierre Clemens, who heads the Internal Affairs Division with the Department of Public Safety, is conducting investigations within the Customs Office concerning misappropriated revenue, after the alleged incident involving Customs Officer Francis Maluia came to light. Captain Clemens declined to comment when contacted.

 

Treasurer officials told Samoa News there have been “major discoveries” of tax revenues gone astray.

 

BACKGROUND

 

As reported earlier, Administrative Law Judge Toetagata Albert Mailo last week ordered the reinstatement of Vaetagaloa to his position as an employee of the government.

 

The ALJ issued his order following a hearing held last week, where Vaetagaloa was represented by attorney Sharron Rancourt, while Assistant Attorney General Michael Iosua represented the government, namely DOT and THE Department of Human Resources (DHR).

 

Last month, Vaetagaloa was placed on annual leave, following recommendations from Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Pili. DHR Director, Le’i Sonny Thompson, in a disciplinary letter to Vaetagaloa, said the action was taken because the Chief of Customs Officer allegedly failed to take action for a month on a “high risk” matter that took place under his watch.

 

The issue came to light when allegations rose that a Customs Officer — later identified as Francis Maluia — allegedly removed a package from the US Post Office that had been under surveillance for 30 days by the Custom Office, after a K9 Customs dog had alerted to the package, indicating the presence of drugs.

 

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