M.C.I.L. Deputy Registrar testifies in nonu company dispute

The Deputy Registrar of the Company registration division for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (M.C.I.L.) has testified in the Supreme Court in relation to a business deal over a nonu company called the Local Partners and Associates. 

Former Cabinet Minister La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao together with his wife Heather Schmidt, business partner Apulu Lance Polu, Martin Schwalger and Tuitui Aiolupo are facing 234 charges in the hearing. 

The defendants are facing charges of forgery, theft, obtaining by deception amongst others in which they have pleaded not guilty to. 

Presiding is Acting Chief Justice, His Honour Justice Vui Clarence Nelson. 

New Zealand Manukau Crown Law Solicitor lawyer Mark Stephen and co-counsel Kristy Sisi Li assisted by Attorney General’s lawyer Quentin Sauaga are the prosecutors.  

Queens Counsels Kieran Raftery represented Apulu and Aaron John Frank Perkins acted on behalf of La’auli. 

Lawyer Tauiliili Harry Schuster represented Schwalger, Mrs. Schmidt and Aiolupo.  

In taking the witness stand, Deputy Registrar Alataua Tuliaupupu recalls the year 2012 when the original Local Partners Limited company was registered. 

She said the company was registered by the then company lawyer Maiava Visekota Peteru. 

The Directors were Martin Schwalger and Leiataua Danny Schwenke both holding 50 percent shares. 

Ms.Tuliaupupu told the Court that in February 2013 a letter giving notice of changes to the Directorship and Shareholders was submitted at the office at the time. 

She does not recall she submitted it but it was signed by Schwalger, she said. 

“The letter made reference to a resolution in which it supported the changes,” said the Deputy Registrar. 

The notice of change is to include Apulu as a shareholder and director for the Local Partners and Associates. 

But it was sometime later on February that year that Ms. Tuliaupupu said Apulu came in the office and lodged a complaint. 

She explained the complaint was that the Ministry did not make the entries in its online system to reflect the resolution from the company. 

“The entries on the electronic system was not the same as to the resolution that was submitted,” said Ms. Tuliaupupu. 

“Apulu made the complaint and had also gone in to speak with the A.C.E.O. to raise his concern over this. 

“The entry on the online system still says that Martin and Danny still holds 50 percent each and his name was not shown to reflect that he is already a director and shareholder of the company.” 

The Deputy Registrar told the Court that she was instructed by the A.C.E.O. to correct the changes in accordance with the resolution. 

Those changes showed that Schwenke has 35 percent, Apulu holds 32.5 percent and Schwalger also has 32.5 percent. 

In addition, the witness also pointed out that the date on the document should read 6 February 2013 instead of 25 October 2012. 

The 6 February 2013 is the date when the Ministry received the notice of change for Apulu to be a director and shareholder. 

During cross examination by Queen’s Counsel Kieran Raftery, had asked the Deputy Registrar if she was aware that during September, when the changes were made to the company’s shareholders with M.C.I.L. allowing Peseta Vaifou Tevaga to hold 50 percent. 

Mr. Raftery said at the time the changes were made there was a civil proceeding about the L.P.A. that was lodged in the Supreme Court. 

The Court heard that Peseta paid the fees for his lawyer to inspect the files of L.P.A. with the M.C.I.L. 

In response, Ms. Tuliaupupu said she was not aware of it. 

Around October 2016, the Deputy Registrar confirmed that an automatic reminder was sent to lawyer Maiava at the time informing her about the annual registration being due for L.P.A. 

She said Maaiva had responded via email saying she has resigned as a lawyer from the company and had referred all queries to La’auli, Apulu and Peseta. 

Ms. Tuliaupupu when asked about Schwalger, she confirmed that he is still a Director of L.P.A. 

The hearing continues today. 

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