Court to set date for dispute

The criminal matter into an ongoing dispute over Local Partners and Associates, a nonu company involving shareholders and a former Cabinet Minister, has been adjourned again for mention next week. 

Senior Member of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt and his wife Heather Tupea Schmidt and business associates Apulu Lance Polu, Martin Schwalger and Tuitui Aiolupo are facing 233 criminal charges. 

La’auli and Apulu appeared in the Supreme Court. 

The other defendants were nowhere to be seen in Court. 

Precious Chang appeared on behalf of an overseas counsel that represents La’auli and Apulu. 

Jason Annandale, who was appearing on instructions from lawyer Tauiliili Harry Schuster, represented Schwalger. 

Prosecutor was Lucy Sio Ofoia. 

Ms. Ofoia told the Court that the matter was called yesterday to set a special fixture date to trial. 

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However, Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu could not set a special fixture day as lawyer Schuster was not present. 

Annandale told the Court that Schuster was attending a funeral in Savai’i and could not be in Court. 

The Chief Justice said he cannot set a fixture date, as Schuster might not be available on the date set for the hearing. 

He then adjourned the matter again to next Monday for mention.

La’auli is facing one count of forgery; 40 charges of theft; 16 for obtaining by deception; 16 counts of causing loss by deception and 88 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.  

La’auli’s wife faces one count of theft, three charges of causing loss by deception and three charges of theft by relationship. 

For Apulu, he faces a total of 51 criminal charges, namely one count of using a forged document, one charge of forgery; one charge for theft; 16 charges of obtaining by deception; 16 counts of causing loss by deception and an additional 16 counts of theft by relationship. 

Tuitui faces seven charges of causing loss by deception and six criminal counts of theft by a person in a special relationship, while Martin Schwalger faces one count of forgery. 

All the defendants entered a not guilty plea to the charges in October last year, when the matter was called before Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke.  

The criminal charges arise from an ongoing dispute over the nonu company with the accused and another senior Member of Parliament and Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga. 

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