Western Dist $1 Mil used mostly on unknown expenses
As of February 27, 2013 Samoa News understands there’s $150,827 remaining in the Western District Account of the $1 million from the $20 million loan the government received from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund to finance several local capital improvement projects, according to ledger entries of the account leaked to Samoa News over the weekend.
The three districts, Eastern, Western and Manu’a, each received in 2009, $1million to carry out capital improvement projects from the $20 Million loan.
The $1 Million dollars, given to each district, has been at the center of many issues brought up during Fono sessions, where senators and representatives have repeatedly sought, unsuccessfully, reports on how much is left, and what the money was actually spent on for each district.
While, little has been reported of the Eastern and Western districts' expenditures, the Manu'a District share was reported by then Gov. Togiola Tulafono to have been used to purchase the now defunct Manu’a boat the “Fo’isia” in 2009 for around $350,000. Another Manu'a expenditure of its $1 million was said to be for the purchase of the fautasi — Matasaua II — which cost over $200,000 to build; however, it was never confirmed if this was paid by the loan proceeds. The fautasi was completed in time for the 2010 Flag Day Fautasi Race.
The three pages of ledger entries of the Western District account leaked to Samoa News indicates that aside from local businesses, certain individuals were issued checks, for thousands of dollars, including government officials such as the former Western District Governor Satele Galu Teutusi Satele, currently the Secretary of Samoan Affairs, former ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i, who is now a Tualauta Senator, former Leasina & Atiulagi Senator Lualemaga Faoa, who is now the Western District Governor and the Speaker of the House, Savali Talavou Ale.
Satele's wife Joyita Satele and their son Galu Satele were also issued checks according to the ledger.
Samoa News confirmed with Tapumanaia Galu Satele that the Galu Satele in the report is not him. Also, it should be noted that Satele, as Western District Governor, had the final say on how the money for his district was spent — each District Governor had that authority. Samoa News understands, villages in each district were allocated by their respective district governors certain funds for capital improvement projects.
For example, according to Fagatogo Representative Maugaoalii Leapai Tusipa Anoa’i during a House session in January this year, asking for a status of the loan money, that of the $1 million that was made available for the Eastern District villages, Fagatogo was allocated about $25K of the money. He claims they only used about half of that amount and now he wants to know if the remaining $12K for Fagatogo is still available.
“We have unfinished and planned projects for the village and now everything is on hold because we don’t know if we still have that $12K available to us,” Maugaoalii told the Samoa News at the time. “I just want someone to look into the matter and perhaps shine some light on what happened to our share of the money.”
The Western District ledger entries begin with the first checks issued in the amount of $3,040 (Check#1263/1264) to Galu Satele and Joyita Satele, respectively, and on July 23, 2009, $2,412.20 was issued to a travel agency.
Samoa News notes the ledger does not track the checks issued in numerical sequence, and at times, checks listed jump in numbers; however, the dates seem to be in order. Also, there are no ledger notes explaining the check outlays.
The next check was dated Aug.19, 2009, for the amount of $25,000, made out to the Samoan Heritage Committee, and listed as check number 1272.
Other checks of interest, were two checks issued to Paramount Chief Satele, first one on May 21, 2010 (Check# 1496) for $30,000, with a second check of $20,000 (Check# 1902) issued on May 31, 2012, which is the same day his son Galu Satele received a another check in the amount of $5,000 (Check#1904). Calls to Secretary of Samoan Affairs Secretary Satele were unsuccessful as of news time.
Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale also received a check in the amount of $50,000 (Check# 1897) on May 23, 2012, while then Senator Lualemaga Faoa received two checks, in the amount of $30,000 (Check# 1874) on March 31, 2012, with the second check issued on May 1, 2012 for $20,000 (Check# 1889).
Former Treasurer and current Tualauta Senator Magalei received five checks between September 28, 2010 to October 12, 2010, which range from $93 to $2,700+ with the total of $4,643.87.
Another check that stood out was issued to the Arts Council on June 30, 2012 in the amount of $40,000(Check# 1905).
Among the many businesses listed in the ledger pages was Island Engraving, a company that makes tombstones, which received $3,810 on Aug. 31, 2011 (Check# 1804).
Another business expenditure standout is McConnel Dowell, which overall received $129,900, over a period of time that began in 2010, with the last payment of $25,000, issued on Dec. 28, 2012. Other private sector companies paid with the loan proceeds of the Western District, were for trucking and construction services, as well as auto repairs.
Other checks that 'stand out' were issued to individuals:
Liua P. Taifane in the amount of $40,000 (Check# 1947) on Dec. 28, 2012
Leofili Poutoa in the amount of $2,800 on Dec. 17, 2010,
Iese A’asa received $5,000 on July 22, 2011, and
Annilyn and Eteline Fuifui received $1,813 on Feb. 29, 2012
A check was also issued to Ipu Avegalio Lefiti in the amount of $207.02, which she explained was from the Western District to pay for the construction of the Leone healing garden the the village created in remembrance of the 2009 tsunami victims. Lefiti told Samoa News that as chairperson of the project, she requested assistance from the district fund and in return received $207.02.
The ledger items end with a handwritten notation:
February 27, 2013 balance $150,827