Forensic accountants may bolster embezzlement probe

The Ministry of Police is looking to engage a forensic accountant in its ongoing investigation into a former top Government official accused of misappropriating $300,000.

The former Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O.) of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Galuo Sera Skelton, had her contract terminated over the misappropriation allegations.

The matter was referred to the Police by the Public Service Commission in March 2019. 

Nine months on, Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, said the ongoing investigation is presenting complexities. 

The Commissioner did not say from where the documents requiring forensic examination were originating.

But he said the Police will not rush into anything unless they have concrete evidence. 

“We will not make an arrest unless we go through the process, following the law at the same time protect the rights of the people affected,” he told the Samoa Observer.  

“We are accountable for our actions and we will go through the process for such cases.”

Asked whether there was a Departure Protection Order on Galuo, the Commissioner referred queries to the Attorney General's office.
Emails to Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, were not answered as of press time.

Galuo was one of the M.J.C.A. management team whose contract was terminated along with the former C.E.O., Papali’i John Taimalelagi, following a Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) inquiry. 

At the time, Galuo faced P.S.C. charges. including unlawfully obtaining Government funds of up to $310,000 for personal use and theft as a servant.

The P.S.C. also accused Skelton of misusing her position as A.C.E.O. to unlawfully acquire funds from three different accounts; the Civil Trust Account, Cashier Account and the Petty Cash. 

Attempts to contact Galuo for a comment have not been successful.

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