S.I.F.A. Chairman rejects E.U. 'blacklist' claim

The Chairman of the Samoa International Finance Authority (S.I.F.A.), Tuatagaloa Alfred Schwalger, says the Authority was not responsible for Samoa's inclusion on on the European Union anti-money laundering blacklist.

“The E.U. listing is not S.I.F.A.’s fault and to be blamed for that is totally wrong," he told the Samoa Observer. 

“The E.U. listing, list jurisdictions or the country and it does not list a corporation, or an entity like S.I.F.A.; they don’t do that."

The Samoa Observer reported this week that the contract for the Samoa International Finance Authority (S.I.F.A.) C.E.O., To’oto’oleaava Dr. Fanaafi Aiono Le Tagaloa, was revoked by Cabinet.

A copy of a Cabinet paper indicated it was “embarrassed” that Samoa had  been placed on an E.U. money-laundering blacklist.

The E.U. anti-money laundering blacklist was released in February this year and named Samoa among 23 countries that had deficient anti-money laundering controls. 

In June this year, the Official Journal of the European Union provided an outline of the reasons each country was added to the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions (informally known as the 'blacklist'). 

"Samoa has a harmful preferential tax regime and did not commit to addressing this issue," the journal article read.

Others on the list include Saudi Arabia, Panama, Afghanistan, American Samoa, the Bahamas, Botswana, North Korea, Ethiopia and Ghana.

On the issue of the S.I.F.A.’s To’oto’oleaava Dr. Fanaafi Aiono Le Tagaloa's contract not being renewed, the Chairman said there is nothing the Board can do. 

“We can’t do much about it," he said. 

"Cabinet has finalised their decision and they have terminated [the contract] and in the last [Cabinet Directive] was pretty specific, the time and everything.

“That is the Cabinet’s prerogative according to the S.I.F.A. Act, when it comes to appointing of a C.E.O. for S.I.F.A."

The Board wrote to Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, explaining their position and their decision to have To’oto’oleaava’s contract renewed for the next three years. In response Cabinet rejected the review by the Board. 

Regarding the other issues outlined by the Cabinet Directive, the Chairman said the Board wrote to Cabinet explaining their side. 

The Cabinet Directive instructs the Board to re-advertise the position immediately; appoint an independent panel to review the applications submitted. 

Other issues listed in the Cabinet Directive is for S.I.F.A.'s mandates to be immediately revised and to focus on marketing its services and move away from regulatory mandates.

"Also S.I.F.A. has been instructed to work closely with its current partners to assure a good working relationship, to eliminate the dispute that’s ongoing," the document said, 

S.I.F.A. was also instructed to refrain from hiring a replacement, until a new management is appointed.  

 

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