La'auli disputes Peseta's $10 million lawsuit claim

Outgoing Member of Parliament, Laaulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt has disputed claims he has filed a $10 million civil suit against the Associate Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.

On Saturday afternoon, Peseta mentioned the lawsuit while speaking to the Government's Savali Newspaper distancing the Prime Minister's involvement from the longstanding dispute between himself and Laauli.

Last month, the Supreme Court delivered a decision which found La'auli not guilty of more than 100 forgery, theft and obtaining by deception charges.

But speaking to the Samoa Observer on Sunday, Laauli offered a different characterisation: "It is not a lawsuit".

He insisted that the legal matter was an "undertaking claim" relating to a separate civil wrangle between the parties.

"The issue is now in our lawyer's hands," Laauli said.

The latest court showdown is a civil matter between the two former party colleagues and is separate to the criminal matter in which La’auli was acquitted. 

The differences between Peseta and La'auli started many years ago over a nonu company they were both involved in. The dispute has been in and out of Court since.

An undertaking given to a court is a promise given to a court and has the same effect as a court order. A breach of that undertaking can result in contempt of court findings and an application can be made for committal to prison.

Peseta claims he has been hit with a lawsuit filed jointly by Laauli together with Martin Schwalger and the owner of Talamua Media, Apulu Lance Polu. 

The news was contained in an interview with the Savali Newspaper entitled: "A $10 million civil case lawsuit has been filed against Peseta Vaifou Tevaga."

"I was surprised when it was announced that they have filed a lawsuit of $10 million [against me] and that's one court case I'm getting ready for," Peseta said during the interview with Savali.

The differences between Peseta and La'auli started many years ago over a nonu company they were involved in. The dispute has been in and out of court since. 

In 2017, Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren dismissed a civil claim brought by Peseta against La’auli. An appeal which he filed was also dismissed.

The following year in 2018, Laauli filed a  civil claim against his former business partner seeking an amount of $10,478,090 for the loss of profits and tarnishing of his reputation related to their nonu producing company.

In the Savali interview on Saturday, Peseta added that he is deeply hurt by the ongoing bitter dispute.

Last week, P.M. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegoi said the Attorney-General’s Office has decided to appeal Laauli's recent court acquittal on more than 100 criminal charges.

Peseta said whether or not said case is appealed, it does not worry him.

What matters is that the nation and his family are able to hear his side of the story on how the ongoing bitter feud with Laauli came about, said Peseta.


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