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Missing money case drags, one year on

Police investigations into the alleged misappropriation of $300,000 by a top Government official continues a year after the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) brought the matter to its attention. 

Police Commissioner Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil said last week that the Police are considering engaging a forensic accountant for the case, which involves a former senior bureaucrat at the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration. 

“There are complexities encountered in this matter hence the delay; but rest assured the case is still active and it’s not yet closed,” he said.

When the Samoa Observer asked the Police for an update on their investigations last November, they also said they were considering the same option. 

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 misappropriation allegations.

Galuo was in charge of Corporate Services at the M.J.C.A. and funds involved came from a Trust Fund that was registered to the Ministry. 

The matter was referred to the Police by the P.S.C. in March last year. 

Twelve months on, the Commissioner said their ongoing investigation is presenting challenges for them. 

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 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. 

The Commissioner told the Samoa Observer that the Criminal Investigation Division is in charge of this investigation and that the police will not make any arrest unless they have concrete evidence. 

“As stated before, we will only move forward when we are done with the investigation and such cases takes up to months, if not years, given the complexity of the case,” he said.  

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