Govt. moves to suspend C.E.O.

The Chairman of the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), Aiono Mose Sua, yesterday confirmed they are moving to suspend the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo.

The decision to begin the process of suspension is to allow the Police to investigate allegations of “corrupt and illegal practices” brought against the C.E.O. by a former Member of Parliament of the Government of India, Sh.P.K. Bansal.

The allegations have been denied by Afamasaga, who has also welcomed the Police investigation so he could clear his name. 

Speaking to the Weekend Observer yesterday, Aiono said the recommendation for suspension came from the Acting Prime Minister, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, and Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

 “We are going through the usual process,” Aiono said. 

“We have written to the C.E.O. and he has responded.  

“We are following through with the process as indicated under the law.  There is a process to follow when we seek to suspend anyone and again we have to meet all the criteria under the law for any suspension to be effective.

 “Everyone is entitled to the process and that is where we are now.”

Aiono declined to discuss the details of the case.

On Thursday, Acting Prime Minister Tialavea told the Samoa Observer that the matter has now been handled by the P.S.C. and the Police.

On the same day, Attorney General Lemalu said the decision to suspend has to be made by the P.S.C. 

“The Acting P.M. and I recommended in writing to the Chairman that the C.E.O. could be suspended pending the outcome of inquiries. The decision is for the Commission to now consider. Whatever their decision, the criminal investigation is now activated and can continue,” said Lemalu. 

Attempts to get a comment from Afamasaga were unsuccessful yesterday.

But the allegations against him were brought by Mr. Bansal in his capacity as the Executive Director of a company called Ascent Navals.

He had written to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission on 28 May 2018, alleging “corrupt and illegal practices” by the C.E.O.

“For transparency, we the Board of Directors of the Ascent Navals Company, through our Director General Capt. Suniel K. Sharma, applied to become a Recognised Organisation (R.O.) when M.W.T.I. advertised last year,” Mr. Bansal wrote.

“Up until now, all I am receiving from this C.E.O. is lies and excuses without a proper update of my application. I know we have been betrayed by Mr. Onesemo and more (sic) worse, he has been asking favour and use us in many ways on pretext of authorising us as R.O.”

When Afamasaga was asked for a comment, he not only denied the allegations in the letter, he counter-accused Mr. Bansal and Ascent Navals of being corrupt themselves.

“These allegations is due to their frustration from numerous visits to Samoa and offers to myself and the Ministry that I continued to deny,” Afamasaga said. 

“He even offered a proposal to Samoa Shipping Corporation, which was also denied. These people are so demanding and the approach of bribing officials that I never accepted. Had there been any offers accepted, I would have been hesitant to remove them from the selection process.”

The Chief Executive Officer said his decision to remove Ascent Navals from the recruitment process has led to them making false allegations against him. 

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