Church Ministers plead not guilty

Nineteen Church Ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) charged with tax-related offenses have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them

The Church Ministers are: Aila Patea, Ailepata Leuta, Anoai Faletutulu, Falenuu Tagataese, Faletaua Faaea, Feata Perelini, Fuatai Simanu, Iaeva Mitai, Iakina Alefaio, Iosefa Uilelea, Kelekolio Sanele, Keneti Leaupepe, Kereta Fuafiva, Letone Uili, Motuga Matagi, Nomeneta Simanu, Samuelu Limuaa, Siaosi Moananu and Toalua Perese. 

They appeared before the District Court Tuesday and each of them faces two charges of failure to withhold tax and failure to file tax returns.

Lawyer Tui Fa’asili entered the pleas of each of the church ministers. 

Alesana Tumua of the Ministry of Revenue was the prosecutor with Judge Leota Raymond Schuster presiding. 

The Court heard that the matter will only take two days of hearing. 

All the church ministers are remanded on bail and will appear for hearing on August 29. 

The new group is the latest to be charged following the first group of 20 church ministers who have their hearing pending in Court. 

The first group will have their hearing on July 1. 

In the recent C.C.C.S. General Assembly, a sum of $1 million tala was approved to cover for legal costs against the church ministers connected to the tax-related proceedings.

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