Battle of politicians in business deal gone sour
The Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, has sued the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao and his business associates Apulu Lance Polu and Martin Jonathan Schwalger for more than $3million.
The hearing of the civil lawsuit is underway before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren.
The plaintiff is represented by Leuluaiali’i Olinda Woodroffe and Leali’ifano Dr. Iopu Tanielu. The defendants are represented by Semi Leung Wai.
Last year, La’auli and other shareholders of the Local Partners and Associates lodged a complaint against Peseta accusing him of fraud and forgery.
The Supreme Court found Peseta not guilty of the charges.
Now, Peseta is suing his former business partners.
Lawyer Leuluaiali’i told the Samoa Observer the preliminary calculation has the lawsuit at $3million tala however it may increase, as the Court deems.
In Court, Leuluaiali’i said the defendants “acted illegally and breached their legal duties under the Company’s Act 2001.”
Peseta claims that the defendants misappropriated funds belonging to Local Partners and Associates (LPA).
He also accuses them of breaching their fiduciary duties and their duties to act in good faith. He claims they were engaged in transactions, which are in conflict and breached their duties by misappropriating funds from the use of the company’s trucks.
He also accuses them of changing company records, using deception and illegal methodology to convert company assets.
LPA was incorporated in 2012 following discussions between Peseta and La’auli for the purpose of selling and exploring nonu juice. A loan was obtained of $1.8million from the National Provident Fund with monthly repayments of $24,000.
LPA was unable to provide security for the loan and so Aldan Civil Engineering Construction Company Limited provided security.
In 2013 LPA using the loaned funds purchased bulk of nonu juice and assets such as vehicles at price of $1.5million with the intention of selling and exporting the nonu juice from the receivers of three related companies, Reef Investments, Pure Pacifika Samoa Limited and Pure Pacifika Limited of New Zealand.
Leuluaiali’i indicated that in 2013 the shareholders and directors for LPA resolved that shareholding was to change to 50% Peseta, 50% Schwalger/Polu shared jointly.
“The companies registrar however remained incorrect in that it records Schwalger and Polu holding a 50% share jointly instead of Schwalger holding a 50% share as resolved.”
Further Leuluaiali’i notes that La’auli, Polu and Schwalger had been selling nonu juice belonging to LPA under a purported trading name Samoa Nonu Delight.
The said trading name was falsely added to LPA’s business license in 2013.
“It was not until 2016, that the trading name Samoa Nonu delight appeared formally as the trading name for LPA on the Company’s Business License.”
Leuluaiali’i added that between 2013 and 2015 the defendants have been selling nonu juice belonging to LPA and directing payment of cheques written for cash or Samoa Nonu Delights yet there was no reference of LPA.
“There is even a letterhead which Polu signs as managing director, of Samoa Nonu Delights despite that company not being registered company.”
The hearing continues.