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Ex-Ministry of P.M. and Cabinet employee guilty of theft

A former Government employee, who claimed she dropped $15,000 that was intended for banking, has been found guilty of theft.

Mary Nerisa Galuega, who used to work for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, was found guilty of one count of theft  by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. 

She had pleaded not guilty to the charge was  represented by lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu.

Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren handed down the guilty verdict after she was satisfied that the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the charge against the accused. 

The Prosecutor is the Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Ann Matalasi. 

 Ms. Galuega claimed she dropped the $15,000 tala cash when she was making her way to the A.N.Z. Bank on April 2018. 

The Court heard that she only deposited U.S. dollars from the same banking visit and not the Samoan tala. 

Justice Tuala Warren adjourned the matter for sentencing on 20 November 2020. 

One of the key witness in the trial held last month is M.P.M.C. former senior accountant, Sanita Tusani Miti, who gave the fund to Ms. Galuega to deposit on that day. 

Ms. Miti told the Court during trial that when the accused returned from the bank that day, she did not have the receipt for the $15,000 banking. 

Asked where the receipt was, she was told that she must have forgotten it and left it with the teller at the bank.

“I heard her talking on the phone and she asked James if he has seen the receipt if it was left on his desk,” said the witness. 

“I could hear her say okay she will pick it up on Monday [next week] and then hung up. 

"She told me that she had forgotten it on the teller's desk and will pick up the next week when she does banking again.”

Since that day, Ms. Miti said she continued to follow up with the accused on where the receipt was, but was constantly told the bank teller was on leave and she will get it the next day.

Ms. Miti said it wasn’t until another day she got to work when she was told that the accused felt sick and was taken to the hospital. 

She told the Court two other work colleagues had told her that the accused wasn’t sick and instead there was something bothering her.

She said it was then that she was told that the accused claimed she lost the money and was afraid to tell her. 

The Court heard that the accused only banked the U.S. dollars and not the Samoan dollars and cheque. 

In her evidence, Ms. Miti said they had issued a stop order to the banks for the cheques that went missing from the funding.

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