2019 People of the Year: Fuimaono Camillo Afele

Fuimaono Camillo Afele has dedicated his working life to fighting corruption at the Samoa Audit Office.

The accountant more than two-decades’ work in the service of investigating accountability and transparency in government had humble beginnings in 1996 when he was appointed to the position of Audit Examiner.

Today Fuimaono is the Controller and Auditor General.

This is the third time Fuimaono has been named one of the Samoa Observer’s People of the Year. The first time was in 2013 an honour he also received last year.

Last week, Fuimaono was given awarded the highest form of recognition in his career to date, when he was made a fellow of Fellow Chartered Accountant (F.C.A.) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.

“There have been many other blessings before this one but this is the ultimate and pinnacle of my career as an [accountant and Auditor] God’s love is magical,” Fuimaono said in response to questions during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

“At times we endure God’s blessings the hymn that comes to mind is ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’”.

He concluded that any professional glory and honour belongs to God.

Currently, Audit Office reports and Irregularity Reports, which are required to be tabled in Parliament as per the Constitution, are up to date.

The reports have contained some eye-opening discoveries. Issues identified within Government by Fuimaono and his team include repeated identification of “inappropriate expenses” which in turn raise the broader question spending habits in a number of Government bodies.

A man inclined to modesty and few words, Fuimaono is the son of the Late Papali’i Taimalelagi Afele and Mata’afa Tamasa’ilau Salu. He is married to Beatrice Malielegaoi Afele; they have two daughters and two granddaughters.

His talent soon had him earmarked for a rapid ascendancy through the public accountability body; a rise that took only a decade. 

In just three years after he started as an Audit Examiner, Fuimaono was appointed as Senior Auditor and in 2000 Fuimaono was named the Audit Consultant.

He was promoted to Deputy Controller and Chief Auditor in 2006 - and four years later Fuimaono became appointed Controller and Auditor General.

In 2013 Parliament amended the Constitution to extend Fuimaono’s contract for a fixed 12-year term.

Since 1996, Fuimaono has been reporting audit of fraud, abuse, waste and corruption for public office.

Ensuring the integrity of public finances is at the very heart of his role and all public sector entities in Samoa are subjected to independent audits and reports under his agency.

Recently, Fuimaono’s commitment to expose corruption, led to the establishment of a special audit unit for whistleblowers in the public sector who wished to report fraud and other irregularities.

His commitment to the further development of his forensic abilities is reflected in his certification as a fraud examiner under the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners since February 2015.

He was named the recipient of the prestigious, Outstanding Achievement in Community Outreach Service Award by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

The A.C.F.E. is the world's largest anti-fraud organisation with nearly 85,000 members and is the premier provider of anti-fraud training and education from its base in Austin, Texas in the United States of America.

The A.C.F.E. Vice President and General Counsel, John Warren, at the time acknowledged Fuimaono’s leading of the campaign to rid corruption in Samoa through various programs.

In 2019 Fuimaono and his team submitted their eighteenth report to Parliament, in what he described as a milestone for public accountability.

“And with the submission of this report marks the journey that we have overcome obstacles of backlogs in the past 10 years and I am very pleased that our reports are now up to date,” said Fuimaono in the latest report.

Last year the Audit Office raised a number of questions about practices within the Samoa Shipping Corporation including an “end of contract” payout for a managerial position.

This year, Fuimaono and his team noted a number of “inappropriate expenses” including an end-of-year function that was replete with $6,000 hampers and a $2000 gift given to the Public Trustee whilst he was on sick leave.

The Auditor General also found that the Samoa Port Authority spent $100,000 on sending four officials to Miami to promote Samoa as an attractive destination for cruise liners.

Fuimaono holds a Bachelor of Commerce from University of Otago in New Zealand and a Master of Public Policy and Management from Australia’s Monash University.

He’s also pursuing a Bachelor of Laws at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and studying for a Doctor of Business Administration with the University of Otago.

Fuimaono holds a number of memberships across the globe in his role as the Auditor General, including the: New Zealand Institute of Management; the Samoa Institute of Accountants - CPA (SIA); the Australia and New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants; membership of the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) and several other regional and international bodies.

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