05 April 2019, Apia Samoa. Former CEO of the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo is considering legal action against the Public Service Commission (PSC) for what he says are negligent charges laid against him and the irreparable damage that his termination has caused his reputation.
“The likelihood of a claim depends on the advice of my legal team and the PSC response to several charges that were negligently laid which were detrimental to my character.”
Cabinet suspended the MWTI CEO in June last year over allegations of corruption raised by an overseas company.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) then launched an investigation into the suspended CEO and three months later in September, the Minister for MWTI confirmed a decision by Cabinet to terminate the services of Afamasaga.
Papalii Niko Lee Hang stated at the time that the basis of the termination was “poor management and a breach of contract”.
A joint media release from the Samoa Police and the Office of the Attorney General sent yesterday afternoon confirmed that no criminal charges would be brought against the former CEO following the investigation, because the overseas witnesses may be forced to incriminate or expose themselves, “meaning the matter could not be pursued in court”.
The media release reads: “A complaint was received from overseas company directors who were seeking flag bearing rights from Samoa’s MWTI, alleging corrupt practices by the former CEO of MWTI;
“A police investigation into the allegations was launched. The file was then subsequently sent to the AG’s office for their review and the culmination of the review, both the Police and AGO were of the same final opinion, that criminal charges should not be filed against the accused,” reads the press release.
“The overseas witnesses involved, their current location, and the strong possibility of self-incrimination, means that this matter cannot properly be pursued in Court.”
Speaking to Samoa Global News Afamasaga says that the whole process has dragged on too long and he felt that the PSC have acted negligently, as they have still not explained the reasons for his termination.
“Today marks 11 months since suspension and eventually termination, but PSC have still not responded with grounds of termination.”
Afamasaga says that although suing his former employers for wrongful termination is not something he would personally like to do, the option is still being considered by his legal advisors because of the irreparable damage to his reputation.
“It has really taken a toll on me and my family. It has ruined my reputation beyond measure;
“The AG was so adamant there was a case for me to answer and immediatley ordered an investigation;
“I was already crucified before the investigation even started. Now they saying the main witnesses will not be able to make it here but that self incrimination is a concern;
“Why was I treated this way?”
“PSC is still taking its time writing their reasons for my termination. I don’t know why it has taken this long. But the waiting is frustrating,” said Afamasaga.
Asked for a comment, Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff said the complaints and allegations were directly lodged from overseas to the AG’s Office, the Chairman of PSC, and the Chief Editor of the Samoa Observer.
“At all times it was clear that these were allegations, however as the complaints and allegations related to the role of a public office, and sent not just to the police but directly to both the AG and the Chair of PSC copying the media at the time, we needed to be clear that the right thing would be done, and investigations would need to be conducted. We had duties to fulfill and we have fulfilled them,” said the Attorney General.
Afamasaga Pou Onesemo however remains firm that the allegations were a set-up by the Indian company as a plot against him.
“From the start I maintained that these were malicious and ill-provoked as part of the Igikia’s set up plan.”