Two years on, Tui Vaai Jr. at large
It has been six months since the Samoa Government vowed it would “not rest" until it brought businessman Tui Vaai Jr. back to face charges of fraud related to a land sale. But he remains at large.
To date it’s been more than 24 months since Tui Vaai Jr left the country while awaiting sentencing by a court.
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 being placed upon him and him being forced to surrender his travel documents.
Repeated efforts to get comments from Mr. Vaai have been unsuccessful as of press time.
Asked about the latest developments in the case, Press Secretary Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga said they are compiling information.
“We are compiling the information to respond to your inquiry pertaining to Tui Vaai's status,” he said.
“As soon as it’s ready, we will let you know.”
However in March Agafili said the Government “will not rest" until it brings Tui Vai Jr. back to face charges.
Last year 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 on his name, 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 [Attorney-General] 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 woman of Vaitele and Auala Savai'i.