The job of a journalist is to reveal the truth and not to gossip monger. Your editorial dated 12 April 2016 was a cut and paste of what we already know regarding the Panama Papers with lucid commentary to add some thought provoking intrigue.
Ending the piece with a request for clarification from, ‘anyone’ is disappointing in that expectation is a Journalist should seek the truth. It isn’t the first time that the name Samoa has been dragged through the proverbial grinder and it won’t be the last. To suggest however, that the name Samoa is forever tarnished is going a bit too far.
Putting our Mission in Canberra on the spot was uncalled for also, ‘e le’o nisi o nai o tatou tagata lava,’ if someone took the time to call the Samoa International Finance Authority (S.I.F.A) the matter would have been cleared up with ease.
One of the Mission’s roles in the whole fiasco is to certify Samoa Registered Legal Documentation for other requesting Nations. They don’t register any companies; this is the role of S.I.F.A. What I am getting at is the Guardian got it wrong because they jumped the gun and made defamatory statements against Samoa, which were unsubstantiated. I doubt it was ignorance more a case of meeting ‘press time’ and the obvious ‘front pager.’
I believe the name Samoa was hurt more from the performance of the Samoa A and our Samoa Sevens Team. This is significant point to make because the majority of Sports Sponsorship in Samoa and abroad is enabled by S.I.F.A revenue. Tax Haven is also a clumsy term when Offshore Companies Registered with S.I.F.A is prohibited by law to operate in Samoa. The only revenue comes from company registrations, renewals and other services, not to mention the number of people employed in the local industry.
In abstract, S.I.F.A is a wall; Offshore Companies are likened to the posters on that wall. S.I.F.A/Samoa Jurisdiction provide the wall and the posters speak for themselves.
Owning the wall doesn’t make you liable for what is posted on the wall. Genuine business and families setup offshore entities are usually looking for legal avenues to reduce their taxes in from stringent taxation systems in their countries of residence.
S.I.F.A is not a Laundromat; it is a legal regulatory authority, which provides registry services, which generates foreign revenue for Samoa. It is for this reason alone Samoa cannot be blamed for the cases of illegal activities practised by foreign nationals in their own companies.
Samoa is mentioned once in this whole affair and Hon. Winston Peters mentioned New Zealand is mentioned more than 60,000 times in the Panamanian leaked documents.
Not to be cynical, but if there are any general references made in editorial comment that are not clear please ask questions. Waiting for someone to give you answers may take some time and we all won’t make news time.
Finally, the reference to Tuilaepa Sailele and his S.I.F.A Revenue is tacky too, S.I.F.A benefits all of Samoa in way or another, so don’t bite the hand that feeds our sports etc. If you want to understand the Panama Paper Affair, ‘Seek locally and you will find’, don’t believe everything that is published in a palagi tabloid, especially when it’s about Samoa.
Remember we were mentioned in one document New Zealand is mentioned in 60,000, “Oka se ga onosefulu afe, e mosi le tatou menti!”
Peace out Samoa.
Ed’s note: Oi Sole’s letter has been published in verbatim. For the information of our readers, the Samoa Observer contacted S.I.F.A for a comment as soon as the Panama Papers made headlines worldwide.
They did not respond. Questions were also sent to the Central Bank of Samoa Governor, Maiava Atalina Enari, who is the Head of Samoa’s Money Laundering Prevention Authority.
They were not responded to. Prime Minister Tuilaepa was asked and he said he needed to understand the issue first. On Monday night, the Office of the Press Secretariat issued a statement on behalf of the government, which covered all the issues that had been raised in the local and international media.
This was published in its entirety on the front page of the Samoa Observer on Wednesday.
Why are we telling you all this? We did ask. It’s not for the lack of asking questions. For years we have been asking questions about this issue and we will continue to.
As for the rest of Mr. Oi Sole’s letter, we don’t necessarily agree with him but thanks for the advice anyway. God bless.