Hearing starts for suspension LTA Officials

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A court hearing against two suspended Assistant Chief Executive Officers of the Lands Transport Authority (L.T.A.) started today.

The matter is scheduled for three days and Supreme Court Justice, Mata Tuatagaloa is the presiding judge.

Prosecution is Lucy Marie Sio and Avei Fa’asi’I while the two defendants are represented by Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i and Ms Crichton.

“In respect for the defendant Mata’afa Sepelini there should be 24 charges before the court and in respect of Anoanoa’i Pepe Lafai there should be seven charges before the court,” said Ms. Sio.

“As we have indicated in respect of all the charges pertaining to Mata’afa we are ready to proceed and in respect of the charges pertaining to Anoanoa’i, we advised the prosecution is ready to proceed on the six charges.”

The 24 charges Mata’afa is facing include forgery and intent to obtain by deception while the charge Anoanoa’i is facing includes theft.

Amongst the witnesses by prosecution was the Chief Executive Officer of the Lands and Transport Authority Galumalemana Ta’atialeoitiiti Agnes Tutuvanu-Schwalger.

The court heard from the witness that Mata’afa was the Manager for Savaii Operations Division of the LTA, he was in charge of overseeing all the services such as road network in terms of maintenance, registration of vehicles in Savaii, issuing of driver’s license and looking after the traffic officers team.

Anoanoa’i on the other hand was the Manager of the LTA legal division. She was responsible for overseeing whether the authority is adhering to the policies and ensures that all the legal processes are being followed.

The legal division also deals with changing of vehicle ownership and the court heard Anoanoa’i was looking after this division.

During Galumalemana’s testimony it also revealed LTA employees are entitled to have no one but two of their own personal vehicles registered under their own names but the payment of the registration will be deducted from their salary.

She also said there is a process that every employees needs to follow before they are granted with this.

“They have to write a letter to me as the CEO and then I will consult with the finance and we have to see whether this employee have had this benefit before or not,” she said.

“When all the requirements are meet and we are satisfied with it then we can grant this to any employee.”

Fepulea’i during cross examination ask Galumalemana whether this policy has been in the authority for long or is this something new.

Galumalemana told the court that this has always been the policy within the authority and everyone has to go through the process before they get this benefit.

Fepuleai put it to the witness if she thinks this so call process is being followed by all the staff members Galumalemana said during the investigation of this matter there were some things that came up during the investigation she did not detail what those things are.

However, she told the court the court the authority is making progress in terms of following the proper process when it comes to registering of vehicles and other things as well.

According to the police warrant Mata’afa allegedly produced a “false document” by altering the year of make of a vehicle (with the registration number T454) from 2000 to 2005, knowing it to be false but with the intent to make it appear genuine.

The offence allegedly occurred on February 19, 2018. Anoanoa’i is facing one charge of theft where she allegedly stole $400 belonging to the L.T.A. on or between March 1-31, 2018.

The hearing is scheduled for three days with the defendants taking the stand on the last day.

 


Deidre Fanene