The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, has corrected a report about the nature of a Police investigation over monies allegedly missing from the Ministry.
In an email to the Samoa Observer in response to a story titled “Finance C.E.O. concerned by alleged misappropriation of Govt. funds,” Agafili said this has nothing to do with the Immigration Department.
“The way the Ministry operates is that the collection is banked on a daily basis by our Corporate Services Division,” Agafili wrote.
“The Immigration does not collect or bank the collections as your article implies. The missing amount is alleged to have been lost by the Accounts officer who was supposed to bank the collection for that day."
“When the matter was reported to me, the Ministry of Finance was notified and I immediately referred it to the police for an investigation.”
Agafili said they are awaiting the conclusion of the investigation by the Police to determine the next course of action.
“I confirm that the immigration division neither collects nor banks the monies that the Ministry collects from its revenue sources. This is nothing to do with immigration.”
The alleged missing amount is $17,135.
This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Tupa’imatuna Lavea, who expressed concerns about the alleged misappropriation of Government funds at the M.P.M.C. and two other Ministries.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer earlier this week, he confirmed three separate Police investigations – including one into M.P.M.C.
The other ministries are the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) and the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.).
“These irregularities have already been reported to the Ministry of Police for their investigation and appropriate action,” he said.
“And yes it very much concerns us, the Internal Audit Officers carry out spot checks and that assists with Internal Controls, which in turn picks up on unaccounted Government funds."
“The Ministries have also reported these irregularities to our office as indicated under the law; the Ministries are obligated to report such incidents immediately."
“And that is why we are highly concerned because of the excessive effort we put in to investigate these matters; given these types of incidents puts a huge negative exposure on the Government when monies are unaccounted for."
“And more so we’ve had to expedite the investigation and pass on the matter to the appropriate authorities for their investigations and recovery of Government funds.”
The C.E.O. assured there are internal controls in place that alerts the M.O.F. on the status of the measures, and then there is a recommendation given to the Ministry in question on what are the next steps to take.