Govt. vows to extradite Tui Vaai Jr.
The Government “will not rest" until it brings Tui Vai Jr. back to face charges, nearly 18 months after he skipped the country.
So vowed the Head of Immigration and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, who said an investigation and extradition request for Mr. Vaai is ongoing.
Mr. Vaai was scheduled to be sentenced in July 2018, after pleading guilty to charges of fraud in relation to selling the same land to two people.
But he left the country despite a Departure Prohibition Order and travel documents surrendered.
Repeated efforts to get comments from Mr. Vaai have been unsuccessful as of press time.
In August 2018, Agafili in a statement confirmed that the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet was investigating how Tui Vaai Jr was issued a new passport to leave the country despite a court order banning him from travel.
The businessman currently has a Departure Prohibition Order (D.P.O.) in place, which bans him from leaving the country due to the criminal matters.
The Samoa Observer inquired about the status of the investigation 18 months on.
Agafili said local law enforcement agencies had done everything to request the New Zealand Government to extradite Mr. Vaai.
“This has been jointly carried out by the Office of the Attorney General, Police and the Samoa Immigration Division," he said.
“The Attorney General of Samoa has confirmed that Mr. Vaai pleaded guilty to the charges of fraud affecting the community that he faced in Samoa. [Vaai] managed to leave the country on false pretences, although his travel documents were surrendered.
"The Attorney General has formally submitted the extradition request through the relevant authorities in New Zealand for assistance, but the process has been lengthy and is still ongoing.”
Agafili said they are awaiting the Government of New Zealand’s response.
“The A.G. of Samoa is clear that the efforts will continue given that Vaai himself pleaded guilty before he fled, we will continue to seek extradition so that he may be returned to face his sentence,” he said.
Mr. Vaai was in Court in relation to a case where he sold land to Saleimoa Amosa, which was already sold to a Victori Lui, thereby obtained $10,000 and causing losses to Saleimoa, a female of Vaitele and Auala Savai'i.