Ex Treasurer given $50,000 from Western Dist fund
After numerous inquiries from the public to Samoa News about a $50,000 check allegedly issued to former ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i a day before the new administration took office, Samoa News sought a copy of the check.
(See copy of check and request letter at bottom of story)
The $50,000 check — a copy of which was leaked to Samoa News — comes from the Western District's share of the money from the $20 Million loan the government made from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund. One million dollars was given to each district to carry out capital improvement projects, and the Manu’a and Eastern Districts also received $1 million each.
Earlier this year, Samoa News reported on each of the ledgers for the Western, Eastern and Manu’a districts. Each ledger entry lists expenses and the amounts paid out using their $1 million share, which was meant to finance local village capital improvement projects, as decided by the villages themselves — in this case, Western district villages.
The $50,000 check was issued to Magalei Logovi’i C/O Mapusaga Fou Village, check number 1952, and attached to the check was Magalei’s request to then Governor Togiola T. A. Tulafono on the same day (January 02, 2013) for an additional $50,000 to complete Mapusaga Fou's VIllage road project.
According to the ledger list Samoa News obtained earlier this year, the former Treasurer and current Tualauta Senator received five checks between September 28, 2010 and October 12, 2010, ranging from $92.99 to $400; $470.88; $950 and $2,730 for a total amount of $4,643.87. The check that was not listed on this ledger list is this $50,000 check.
According to the document leaked to Samoa News, the request, typed out on a plain piece of paper (no letterhead), was approved by Togiola on the same day it was requested (January 02, 2013). Togiola’s signature appears on the note-request, with the date he signed off on the request, approving it.
On the top left of the check it has “American Samoa Government ERF (Employment Retirement Fund) Loan Construction. (Samoa News has blocked out the Bank of Hawai’i account number from its published copy).
Magalei told Samoa News via-cell phone, yesterday, the funding he received from the Western District money was to complete two secondary road projects — one to his house and a place in Mapusaga Fou called Puna Valley, where many people reside, including his mother and his sister.
He noted the money from the Western District funds for the road project to his house was not enough, and he had to fork up the money himself to complete that project.
“It was money out of my own pocket which completed the road project to my house,” Magalei stated. He said there was a previous check of $35,000, which started the road project to the Puna Valley and given that it was incomplete, he reached out to Togiola for an additional $50,000 to complete this project.
Current Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Pili also confirmed with Samoa News that aside from the $50,000 check there was a check of $35,000. It's unclear where the funding for the $35,000 check came from, given that it's not listed in the Western District Ledger, either.
It’s unclear if the $50,000 check was to reimburse Magalei for out of pocket expenses for the road to his house, as well as to complete the road to Puna Valley or just for the valley road.
According to reliable sources, each village in the Western District was supposed to get between $30- $50,000 for their respective projects, depending on the size of the village or the size of their project(s).
Unfortunately, the Western district ledger shows many of the villages did not receive their share, and ledger expenses indicate that instead large amounts were used to fund such activities or events like the Samoan Heritage Week in Honolulu, the Arts Council contingent that went to the Arts Festival in the Solomon Islands, travel and per diems for Satele Galu T. Satele (who was the Western District governor at the time), his wife and one of his sons, as well as others, and also two separate malagas that went for the Samoa Flag Day celebrations, over a period of two years. In some cases, some villages did receive money, but as in the above case, it’s difficult to ascertain why some villages got nothing, while others received more than $50,000.
Samoa News should point out that in its stories on the district ledgers, not one district spent its money strictly according to statute — that is only for village capital improvement projects.
For example, Manu’a is seen spending a large portion of its funding to build a fautasi, and fund a Manu’a Day celebration; while, Pago Pago village for its Eastern District loan allocation, also seemed to have used some of it for its fautasi too. Both of these districts are also seen paying travel and per diems out to certain district leaders, as well as for like events, such as for the Samoan Heritage Week in Honolulu, and the Arts Council contingent that went to the Solomons.
Currently, the balance of each of the district’s $1 million allocation is not known, and is probably a moot point due to the fact the Lolo Administration has chosen to take the balance of the $20million dollar loan — of which the $1million for each district came from — and put it in an account established as an “emergency reserve fund” account. This is the same account the balance of the $3 million allocated to the Fono for its new building has been put.
An ASG summary report — as of Jan. 31, 2013 — on the $20 million loan received by some lawmakers in February 2013 showed that over $19.03 million was expended, leaving a balance in the fund of only $960,307.40.
Signed by former Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i, who is now a sitting Tualauta senator, on a plain piece of paper, ‘the note’ requests money from the $1 million Western District allocation for Mapusaga Fou. The request was approved by then Gov. Togiola T.A. Tulafono, on the same day the request was made — January 2, 2013 — his signature, with date also appears on the note, denoting approval.