A.G. explains non-action over confiscated container

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 21 December 2017, 12:00AM

Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff, has washed his hands clean of a call for his Office to investigate an incident where the Ministry of Revenue confiscated container allegedly smuggled into the country using falsified documents.

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer about his Office’s role, Lemalu said the matter was not referred to his office and therefore he could not act.

“I informed the Ministry that if there are alleged breaches of the Law, then we can and should be involved, once the file passes to the police with a formal complaint of criminal charges, upon which we can then legally advise police on prosecution,” Lemalu told the Samoa Observer. 

 “I also stated that this office can work directly with Customs in their investigation to advice on legality, if required. 

 “We do not otherwise have any investigative power ourselves.” 

Lemalu said so far, the file about the matter had not reached his Office.

 “I have not received any file, or any further communication, or any further notice of the matter,” he said. 

 “I have contacted today (yesterday) the Police Commissioner and he has confirmed that he has not received a criminal complaint on this specific matter either.” 

The Attorney General assured that if a criminal complaint is lodged, his office will undertake their duty as required.

The call was made by Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, last month.

During an interview, Olo said the “matter deals with border security breaches in our country, which is an issue Lemalu should definitely look into”. 

The issue at hand was uncovered back in September 2017, where the Minister of Revenue and Customs, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, told the Samoa Observer the container was allegedly smuggled into the country using falsified documents.

Instead of taking it to Court, the Ministry of Revenue has decided to settle the matter with the company involved. 

The details about the settlement remain hidden.

But Olo believes that by involving the A.G., it will send out a clear indication to the business community that this type of (alleged) criminal activity will not be tolerated by this government.  

“It’s clear from the Ministry of Police they have not been asked to investigate this matter. So now is the time for the Attorney General to step into this relatively important issue,” said Olo. 

However, Lemalu cited that his office has no legal grounds because there has been no official complaint to the Ministry of Police. 

Responding to the Samoa Observer questions, Lemalu says his office was informed earlier this year by the Ministry that there was an internal investigation as to these particular containers. 

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 21 December 2017, 12:00AM

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