The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi, has resigned from his ministerial portfolios.
But he is adamant that he is innocent.
“I declare that only God knows the truth,” he said. “I claim my innocence and I can categorically state I am clean of all the things that I have been accused of.”
La’auli made the statement during a press conference held in his office where the senior Cabinet Minister and former Speaker of Parliament announced his resignation.
On Tuesday, La’auli was charged with allegedly obtaining money by deception. His wife and a business partner were also charged. The charges are in relation to an on-going court case over a nonu company involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party and Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner, Sala’a Moananu Salala’a, said they are scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court on 18 September 2017.
“The Cabinet Minister is charged with obtaining by deception. This is the same charge that his wife is facing while the business partner is charged with obtaining a forged document,” Sala’a said.
“Each of the charge carries a maximum penalty, if convicted, and will serve up to seven years in jail.”
During the press conference, La’auli said he is resigning with a heavy heart out of respect for the government.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation as a Minister of Cabinet,” he said in a statement.
“For the integrity of Cabinet, Government and with the highest of respect to the Prime Minister, I willingly surrender my Cabinet portfolios but will retain my status as a Member of Parliament to await the outcome of the court proceedings.”
La’auli vowed to fight all the charges against him vigorously.
The following is a statement he issued to the media:
Press Statement by the Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi on his resignation from Cabinet, Wednesday 23 August, 2017.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation as a Minister of Cabinet.
For the integrity of Cabinet, Government and with the highest of respect to the Prime Minister, I willingly surrender my Cabinet portfolios but will retain my status as a Member of Parliament to await the outcome of the court proceedings.
At this time, I will not dwell on the pending charges against me as the matter is now in Court.
But rest assured, I am confident that God willing, justice will prevail.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi for the opportunity afforded to me to serve our Country as a Cabinet Minister.
I take this opportunity to thank my electoral constituency as well as the various Ministries under my watch during my tenure, or their support.
And lastly but not the least, I also acknowledge the support from my family and Samoa for their trust and faith in this humble servant of the people.
Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt.