Football Federation kept alleged $200,000 misappropriation internal

The Football Federation Samoa (F.F.S.) did not report an employee alleged to have misappropriated more than $200,000 to Police partly because its public image could suffer, the Samoa Observer can reveal. 

A record of an F.F.S. Executive Committee meeting, obtained by the Samoa Observer, shows that a total of $210,017.25 was misappropriated from the organisation.

The organisation’s Finance Officer, Faith Ameto, allegedly misappropriated the funds from a period beginning in 2018, according to the document.

"This is one of the saddest things to have happened in the history of the F.F.S. given the enormity of the amount involved,” the minutes of the 6 October meeting say.  

The organisation’s now-former Finance Officer was asked to pay back the money in order to avoid the matter being brought to Police attention, according to the minutes.

Present at the meeting convened specifically to address the matter were the F.F.S. President Papali’i, Vice President, Fuata La’i Tautiaga; Afamasaga Sefine Kapisi; Muliaaumasealii Siaosi Tagilima; Edward Gabriel; Emily Young.; and Renata’i Levine Siemu.

“Papalii informed the club that this meeting was called specifically to discuss the issue of Faith [Ameto] misappropriating F.F.S. funds starting from 2018. The total misappropriated amount was $210,017.25,” the minutes note.

 “According to Papali’i, if this is treated as a criminal case [F.F.S] will not recover our funds. We also have to think about the image of the Federation and the game if we pursue the matter with the Police and the Courts.”

Requests for comment from Ms. Ameto sent via email and a social media account were not returned.

When contacted for comment about the matter last week, Papali’i refused to disclose details of the case including the amount involved, saying: “Merry Christmas.”

But after the Samoa Observer obtained documentation detailing the scale of the alleged misappropriation, the F.F.S. President accused the Samoa Observer of seeking to “defame” the organisation.

 “[It is] not surprising your paper seems to use F.F.S. to sell stories that are defamatory to the sport and Samoa as a whole in terms of its development, funding from its donors and commercial sponsors,” Papali’i said.

Ms. Ameto’s services were terminated in October, according to the F.F.S. document.  She was asked to pay back the missing funds by 13 November “otherwise the matter [would] be referred to the Police and the Courts”.

The F.F.S. President accused the Samoa Observer of harassment and threatened to pursue legal action if reporting on this story was to continue.

 “If you persist on [reporting on] something that is an internal matter, we will consider our legal options,” he said in an email on Saturday.

 “Be rest assured that we will pursue this matter with you and Samoa Observer in the Courts should you continue to harass [the F.F.S.] with matters which I've said is an internal matter, has already [been] resolved and as far as I'm concerned is now closed.”

The President also demanded the Samoa Observer disclose its sources. This newspaper does not ever identify its sources.

“If you are brave, transparent, and fair enough as a responsible journalist, identify your sources and tell them to come and speak directly to me or you all come together for me to enlighten you all on the birth of Christ our saviour,” he said.

But Papali’i was adamant that the incident had been dealt with; he said the standards of governance within the organisation had been raised.

“Rest assured this is all part of the ‘good governance’ reforms we are rolling out,” he said. “We will not be distracted by your efforts as we are on track [towards] making Samoa where it belongs in terms of football in the region and that is to be a winner and not just a participant.

 “We continue to have the support of [international governing body Fédération Internationale de Football Association (F.I.F.A.)], [The Oceania Football Confederation (O.F.C.)], [the Government of Samoa], clubs and relevant stakeholders in making sure Football in Samoa gets to where it should be and this is through development and reforms.

 “We continue to put in place the reforms and changes for the betterment of the sport in Samoa.”

F.I.F.A. did not respond to requests for comment about the F.F.S. this week. The O.F.C. declined to comment, saying the matter was not within its jurisdiction.

Papalii refused to comment as to why a matter involving a large amount of money had not been referred to the Police when earlier matters involving the former C.E.O. and President and the F.F.S. had been . (Both those charges were withdrawn in July after the Supreme Court dismissed the charges following a request from the Attorney-General to withdraw the charges).  

But Papali’i said the running of football in Samoa had improved significantly since a new management team was brought in. (Papali’i was appointed as President in February 2019).

Seve Dr. Folototo Seve was appointed the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer in December last year but this month announced his resignation, after having fulfilled one-year of his three year contract.

 “Since we came onboard and negativity and malicious persecution by people like you will not derail our efforts to make football in Samoa successful and a sport of choice for our future generations,” Papali'i said.

According to the F.F.S. minutes after the misappropriation was uncovered, the outgoing C.E.O. and Papali'i moved to terminate the services of the Finance Officer,  Ms. Ameto.

 “So when the misappropriation was confirmed Papalii discussed with Seve and decided to terminate her employment while requiring her to return all the misappropriated funds although this is a criminal case,” the minutes stated.

 “The conditions were that [...] would pay back all the funds by 13 November otherwise the matter will be referred to the Police and the Courts.

 “This case will serve as a catalyst for [F.F.S.] to put in place policies that in the future, any such matter will be treated as a criminal case. That is, it will be referred directly to the Police.”

Below is the full response from Papalii, sent on Saturday afternoon after the Samoa Observer questioned him about the scale of the misappropriation and asked if policies had been implemented to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

 "As I said, the matter as far as I'm concerned has been closed and the Fédération has moved to do what's best for football in Samoa. Rest assured this is all part of the "Good Governance" reforms we are rolling out. 

However, its not surprising your paper seems to use FFS to sell stories that are defamatory to the sport and Samoa as a whole in terms of its development, funding from it donors and commercial sponsors. We will not be distracted by your efforts as we are on track on making Samoa where it belongs in terms of football in the region and that is to be a winner and not just a participant. 

We continue to have the support of FIFA, OFC, GoS, Clubs and relevant stakeholders in making sure Football in Samoa gets to where it should be and this is through development and reforms. We continue to put in place the reforms and changes for the betterment of the sport in Samoa.

The running of football in Samoa has made so much progress since we came onboard and negativity and malicious persecution by people like you will not derail our efforts to make football in Samoa successful and a sport of choice for our future generations.

If you persist on something that is an internal matter, we will consider our legal options. Be rest assured that we will pursue this matter with you and Samoa Observer in the Courts should you continue to harass FFS with matters which I've said is an internal matter, has already being resolved and as far as I'm concerned is now closed. 

If you are brave, transparent and fair enough as a responsible journalist, identify your sources and tell them to come and speak directly to me or you all come together for me to enlighten you all on the birth of Christ our saviour.

Kind regards,

 

Papalii Samuel L. Petaia

FFS President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bg pattern light

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM

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?