Time to work, P.M. says about La'auli and Peseta

The Court decision delivered on Friday, in a longstanding dispute between two senior Members of Parliament, should help them forget the past and concentrate on serving their constituencies.

That's what Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, said in response to questions from Samoa Observer outside Parliament on Monday.

The two senior Members of Parliament are La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt and the Associate Minister of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga. The duo had been involved in nonu company with their associates when things turned sour, leading to Court battle.

On Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed 100 criminal charges against La'auli, in the latest development of the feud.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tuilaepa said it is now time for La’auli and Peseta to focus on their work as Members of Parliament.

“In terms of the decision from the Court, I wish him (Laauli) well," said Tuilaepa. "But it's now time for them to do their work properly [sagai ane loa ai ole tai fai fa'alelei la galuega]."

“It is not long to go until this Parliamentary term concludes. That is my response.” 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa in the past had insisted that he had tried to solve the dispute between La’auli and Peseta but he ended up getting involved. 

The Supreme Court dismissed 100 criminal charges against La’auli that relates to the operation of the Local and Partners Associates nonu company he was involved with Peseta and others. 

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson dismissed 104 charges against all the defendants but found businessman Apulu Lance Polu guilty of one count of using a forged document. 

La’auli together with his wife Apulu and L.P.A. workers were initially charged with 234 charges that they pleaded not guilty to. 

Following the decision from the Court, La’auli declared that the truth has finally been revealed. 

“Like I said before I walked away from my Ministerial portfolio, I claimed my innocence," he said. "Now the truth has been revealed."

Contacted for a comment, Peseta was reluctant saying he does not want to discuss the case at this point. 

Legal proceedings into the failed nonu export business started some seven years ago between Peseta and La’auli in a long drawn out case of suits and counter suits over the L.P.A. company. 

Following a civil matter filed by Peseta and dismissed by the Court of Appeal, the Associate Minister proceeded to file criminal charges against La’auli and four other defendants. 

La’auli at the time was the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and with one year into his portfolio he resigned so he can clear his name from the Court. 

The core of the legal matter is the story of the two parliamentarians who set out to make great wealth by purchasing processing and selling nonu juice to lucrative markets in China and elsewhere. 

Justice Vui said this was however a journey that turned sour quicker than a nonu seed. 

In the conclusion of the evidence before the Court, Justice Vui found that prosecution failed to prove the charges against La’auli and three co-defendants beyond reasonable doubt. 


Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?