Accused foreigner breaks his silence

A man charged and convicted of running a money-making scam in Samoa, Nicolas Giannos, has broken his silence for the first time since he and his business partner were arrested at Faleolo International Airport last year.

Speaking outside the Supreme Court where their application to leave jurisdiction was rejected, Giannos insisted that he and Rosita Stanfield have done nothing wrong.

Angry about the decision from Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, Giannos said they have been denied justice and he feels extremely frustrated about the whole ordeal.

“We’ve been in Samoa for almost a year,” he said, adding that they have never “deceived anyone.”

 “We were stopped at the airport from leaving Samoa without a Court order,” he said. “The police held us for ten days in custody. There is no country in the world where someone can be held in custody over ten days.”

Giannos continued that they were not told about the charges and they only found out about it by accident.

During the trial, Giannos said his lawyer, Leota Raymond Schuster, presented all the evidence in Court. Despite this, the ruling was against them.

“I totally disagree and reject the outcome of the case,” he said.

“The evidence was in there that we did nothing wrong. I don’t know what the reason is.”

Giannos, who is originally from Spain, said they have been denied justice.

 “Most definitely Justice is not done so far,” he said. 

“All we are asking the Court to do is to go through the evidence that is in the Court of law, we are not asking to do anything extraordinary to look on the other side or not. 

“We are merely asking to look thoroughly in the evidence that we’ve presented in the Court of law.” 

Giannos said they did not come to Samoa to scam anyone

“That’s just insane,” he said. 

“Why would we come here to do something like that? And for what purpose?”

He said he lived in a country that is more than 60 million people and he had never heard of Samoa until they came here.

Asked why he was speaking out now, Giannos said he wanted to clear their names.

“We’re not criminals and we’ve never committed a crime before. We just want justice.”

Giannos added that he was heartbroken that their application to return home to see their families was denied.

Giannos and Stanfield were charged and convicted of running a pyramid scheme in Samoa. Giannos, a businessman from Greece along with Stanfield, a Samoan who had lived overseas for a long time, came to Samoa with the intention of recruiting local investors to invest in the UFUN Club and promised a higher return afterwards.

They were jointly charged with Fa’atoafe Mati Silao with eight counts of obtaining by deception pursuant to s.172 of the Crimes Act 2013.  

Giannos was also charged with two individual counts of false accounting pursuant to s.198 of the Act.

At the conclusion of the evidence for the prosecution, defence counsel made a submission of no case to answer on behalf of the three accused in respect of all the charges.  

The Chief Justice ruled on 8 October 2015 that there was no case to answer in relation to the accused Fa'atoafe Mati Silao in respect of the eight joint counts of obtaining by deception with which he was charged.  Those counts against Fa’atoafe were therefore dismissed and he was discharged. 

The Court also ruled that there was no case to answer in reference to the accused Giannos and Stanfield being jointly charged with two counts of obtaining by deception. That left six joint counts of obtaining by deception against Giannos and Stanfield and two individual counts of false accounting against Giannos alone.

In passing judgment, Chief Justice Patu said: “I find the accused Mr Giannos and Ms Stanfield both guilty of the remaining six joint charges of obtaining by deception.”

The defendants are appealing the decision. The hearing is scheduled for October when the Court of Appeal sits.

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