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Li'avaa Moevao is the new Chief of Customs, new deputy named too

Li’avaa Moevao, the new Chief of Customs giving brief remarks during a Mar. 29, 2018 port users meeting, where he was introduced to the private sector.  [Courtesy photo]
Both are longtime Customs employees

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG Treasury Department has hired a new chief of Customs, someone who has more than two decades of enforcement experience and has also filled the post of deputy chief of Customs.

The move comes as the government aims to further strengthen the enforcement of Customs laws and collections at American Samoa’s port of entries.

Deputy Treasurer for Revenue, Keith Gebauer confirmed yesterday to Samoa News the hiring of Li’avaa Moevao as the new Customs chief and Iuliano Falaniko as deputy chief. Gebauer has been serving as acting head of Customs for several months now after former customs chief, Moetului Sipili stepped down from the post.

Samoa News learned over the weekend from two local business representatives that Moevao and Falaniko were introduced by Gebauer during a Mar. 29th port users meeting, where a brief statement from ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipe’a and the Treasury Department was made available to port users regarding Moevao’s hiring.

According to the statement, Moevao brings with him 25 years of law enforcement experience from the Los Angeles Police Department, and nearly 15 years of military service in the US Navy.

Treasury thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Sialega Palepoi Mauga for their continued leadership and support for the Customs Division, and expressed appreciation to the Department of Human Resources and director, Eseneiaso Liu for their assistance in facilitating the recruitment and selection process for the Chief of Customs.

“We wish Mr. Moevao great success in his new role and we firmly believe with his experience, dedication, and leadership, he, along with the Customs Division leadership team, will lead the Customs Division forward to accomplish its mission and objectives,” said the statement.

Gebauer made similar verbal remarks during the port users meeting, and Moevao also gave brief remarks, according to private sector representatives who were present at the time.

Responding to Samoa News questions, Gebauer explained that Treasury management personnel conducted interviews several week ago after DHR concluded its advertising and interview selection process.

He said Moevao started on Mar. 19th and has been completing his orientation and training program to ensure he is informed of all ongoing projects and Custom Divisions operations, and to provide him a smooth transition from the "acting" Chief of Customs position.

Business representatives who attended the port users meeting told Samoa News that Falaniko has been with Customs for many years and the deputy chief post is “deserving” of an ASG employee with experience.

Gebauer told Samoa News yesterday that Falaniko has 20 years of experience within the Customs Division and most recently, was the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Customs Division K-9 unit. “Iuliano was selected after a lengthy internal advertising and interview process in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources,” Gebauer pointed out.