The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Tupa’imatuna Lavea, is “extremely concerned” about the alleged misappropriation of Government funds.
Yesterday, he confirmed three separate Police investigations into three different Ministries.
The ministries in question include the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.), Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.) and the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
“The M.P.M.C. is implicated with missing funds of $17,135 whereas M.N.R.E. there are two cases one for $5,500 and the other for $7,900 or $13,000 in total while the M.W.T.I. is more than $12,000,” Lavea said.
Lavea explained that the missing funds from the Immigration Office appears to be monies that were not banked.
For M.N.R.E., he said the $5,500 was lost from the lease division.
He did not comment on the M.W.T.I. noting the matter has already been explained.
“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,” said Lavea.
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 the next steps to take.
“Upon receipt, they address the matter and inform us as to what new changes have been made to convince the Finance Ministry this does not repeat.
“However, you can never be 100 percent sure the measures are adhered by the Government employees.
“Some of them have ways to manoeuvre the finance system by bypassing their principal accounts clerks until it is too late.”
The C.E.O. said the internal auditors have spent so much time on these matters when there is far more important work to do for the Government.
“But we don’t have a choice, but to deal with these irregularities head on,” said Lavea.
“And of course this is not the first time these things have happened and the best thing we can do is implement processes for controls.
“There are banking processes, a report from the cashier to the Senior Account Clerk with verification by the Principal Office, but somehow these cashiers always find a way to manipulate the system and take Government money,” said Lavea.
As reported yesterday, the M.N.R.E. Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismark Crawley confirmed three employees implicated have been reassigned to other divisions of the Ministry while they await the outcome of the investigation.
The M.W.T.I. Chief Executive Officer, Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo told the Samoa Observer the matter was reported to the Ministry of Finance who had since referred the matter over to the Ministry of Police for investigation.