Misappropriation, misconduct allegations behind F.E.S.A. suspensions
Two top officials at Samoa’s fire and emergency services department have been suspended pending an investigation into allegations relating to the misappropriation of funds and other matters of misconduct.
The employees’ suspensions took effect on 17 December last year and came after an investigation by the Ombudsman and on his recommendation, the Samoa Observer can reveal.
The two employees concerned are the Manager for Corporate Services, Faafetai Alisi, and the fire service’s Principal Human Resources Officer, Petrocelli Lokeni.
The Samoa Observer does not have a copy of the Ombudsman’s report which outlines the details of the allegations and the extent to which the allegations implicate each manager individually.
But the employees’ suspension was confirmed on Wednesday.
The Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority’s (F.E.S.A.) Acting Commissioner, Tanuvasa Petone Mauga, confirmed the employees’ suspensions during a brief interview at the organisation’s Apia headquarters on Wednesday.
“I can confirm the two [employees] have been suspended pending investigation but I cannot comment on the details, given that the investigation is ongoing and it would be premature to make comments at the moment,” Tanuvasa said.
“This is per recommendations made by the Ombudsman after their investigation into the allegations.
“As per your question, the investigation is being carried out by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Enterprises and that is all I can say.”
The Samoa Observer has contacted Ms. Alisi for comments via email but received no response by press time. Attempts to seek comment from Mr. Lokeni have also been unsuccessful.
The Samoa Observer approached the Minister of F.E.S.A., the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, but he referred queries on the matter to the Authority.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the Prime Minister said.
“The [Ombudsman’s] report only outlines the recommendation but there has been no suspension to my knowledge.
“You’ll have to go to [F.E.S.A.] to get their comments.”
When pressed on the fact that the suspensions had taken effect Tuilaepa noted that “suspension does not mean their services have been terminated; that means they are suspended but there are [investigations] to be done”.