Disciplinary letter served customs officer in probe
The customs officer under investigation in connection with allegedly removing a package from the US Post Office that had been under surveillance for 30 days by the Custom Office, after K9 Tiger alerted to it, has been placed on “annual leave until further notice” effective yesterday.
Francis Maluia was served yesterday morning with a diciplinary action letter from Human Resources Director, Le’I Sonny Thompson, who also had moved to place Chief Customs Officer Glen Lefiti on leave following recommendations from Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Pili last week. (Read story below.)
Late yesterday afternoon, Samoa News obtained a copy of this letter from the HR Director to the Customs Officer involved. As Samoa News reported last week, the Treasurer confirmed that they are conducting an investigation into this matter. “This is a serious issue, however I am very cautious about these things because we have to protect the integrity of what we are trying to do, within the organization,” he told Samoa News.
“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. According to the letter, Le’i was informed by the Treasurer who was informed by Chief of Customs Lefiti, that the customs officer allegedly picked up and signed for a parcel (box) that had been under surveillance for 30 days by the Customs Office.
“This parcel was the result of the K-9’s routine check at the Post Office which allegedly contained contraband.” The letter further indicated “you allegedly bypassed all the customs check points after retrieving the parcel which was not addressed to you. “Because of the seriousness and the extent of this alleged incident the Treasurer had recommended that you be placed on Annual Leave until further notice,” said Le’i in his letter to the customs officer.
The HR Director informed the customs officer that he reviewed the recommendation letter from the Treasury regarding the alleged incident and the sequence of events, which led up to this point in time.
“You shall be informed that I concur and in accordance with the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC), Title 4, Chapter 8, Section 4.0802 Removal, suspension, demotion of career service employees; paragraph (e) (1), and until the investigation is completed and this matter resolved, you are hereby place on Annual Leave, effective today May 13, 2013 until further notice.
“Furthermore, effective immediately you are ordered that any government property (office keys, vehicle keys, equipment etc.) in your possession must be turned in to the Treasurer imme- diately but not later than 12:00 noon today. Also you are prohibited from entering the workplace effective immediately.
“If you like, you can respond to me in writing furnishing affidavits in support of your defense within 3 days from the date of this letter. If you also wish to reply to me orally, you can do so.
“Until then, I strongly recommend that you take this opportunity to conduct yourself in a manner commensurate with your employment status as a career service employee in the American Samoa Government and the standard expected of a Custom Agent,” wrote the HR Director.