Aussie investor mystery remains, Minister says issue "forgotten"

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 17 January 2020, 11:00AM

The movements of an Australian entrepreneur who came to Samoa promising a number of economic developments, including Samoa’s first Call Centre, remains a mystery.

Since the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into PEEQ Telecommunications Executive Trustee, Graham Liao, the businessman has disappeared from Samoa, never to be seen again.

Asked for an update about the Call Centre, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (M.C.I.T.), Afamasaga Rico Tupai, said the matter is old and has "been forgotten."

Pressed about whether the Attorney General’s investigation determined if Mr. Liao was a legitimate investor, Afamasaga said that was a question for the Attorney General’s Office to answer.

 “That is the reason why I cannot say what the decision is,” Afamsaga said. “I can’t disclose it. It has been forgotten as it’s been a while.

The Minister added: “If I could recall, the advice [from the Attorney General] was not to grant a lease [to PEEQ]…”

Asked about the lease at Vaivase, Afamasaga said the lease is still under M.C.I.T. and there are other plans for its use. One of the options is for a Technology park, he added.

As for the Call Centre, the Minister said there is already another Call Centre company from New Zealand called Connect Global. He said they are working out of the Digicel office and employ about 30 staff.

Mr. Liao is alleged to have multiple aliases. He is also known as Graham Favell.

It was not possible to get an update from the Office of the Attorney General before press time.

But when A.G. Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff was asked last year, he confirmed that his Office received a request to investigate Mr. Liao’s background.

 “Our office was approached for advice regarding this matter recently and has then undertaken a legal analysis and a due diligence check with the assistance of our colleagues from other associated Government departments such as [the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet],” he said.

 “The resulting initial advice has been issued to Government and is subject to solicitor client confidentiality.”

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 17 January 2020, 11:00AM

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