Former public servant implicated in forgery not with Ministry of Finance

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Iulai Lavea

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Iulai Lavea

A Government official, who produced falsified letters of approval by the Tenders Board to make a payment worth $212,000 to suppliers for services and goods that had not been supplied, does not work for the Ministry of Finance.

Contrary to claims that the woman who resigned from the Ministry of Health a few years ago is back in the public service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Iulai Lavea, told the Sunday Samoan that is not the case.

“She does not work for us,” he said. 

“She is a Project Manager somewhere else, but not for the Government and not for the Ministry of Finance.”

The former public servant used to work as a Procurement Specialist for the Ministry of Health.

According to a report by the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, and the Audit Office, submitted to the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, on 16 December 2016, they found the forging of the Tenders Board approval at the Ministry of Health. 

The report does not name the employee and who the suppliers are.

“The I.A.I.D. conducted an investigation on 17 June 2014, into payment vouchers submitted to the Accounts Division of M.O.F. on 13 June 2014 by the M.O.H. in relation to sums payable to two suppliers for $77,000 and to Supplier 2 for $135,000,” the report reads. 

 “The former Procurement Specialist produced falsified letters of approval by the Tenders Board to support payments and forged signatures shown on the letters. Services and goods involved have not been provided by the two suppliers.”  

Asked about this, C.E.O. Lavea explained that although the woman falsified the approval letter by the Tenders Board, the transaction was stopped immediately.

“I can confirm clearly that while the documents were signed; however we picked up on the red flags and that’s when the transaction was stopped,” Lavea said. 

When the matter surfaced and was investigated, the Procurement Specialist resigned from her position on 30 June 2014.

 “This case was referred to the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Police for further investigation under their respective laws,” the report continues. 

Attempts to confirm whether any criminal charges were filed against the former government employee were not successful.

Emails to the Police for a comment have not been responded to.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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