11 Sep 2007

American Samoa's Lt. Governor arrested by FBI and flown to Honolulu

9:53 am on 11 September 2007

American Samoa's Lt. Governor, Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia, has been arrested by FBI agents and transported to Honolulu on a US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft

Local and off-island sources have confirmed that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents met with the Lt. Governor on Friday and arranged his surrender.

The agents had traveled to Pago Pago with a federal arrest warrant.

Our correspondent in the territory understands that Governor Togiola Tulafono had been informed prior to the federal agents arrival of the imminent arrest, and Senate President Lolo Letalu Moliga was also made aware that the Lt. Govenror would be taken off island.

A member of the Senate, Senator Tulifua Lam Yuen is also expected to surrender himself to federal agents in Los Angeles.

Both Ipulasi and Senator Tulifua have been the target of a federal investigation since 2005 over furniture contracts for the Department of Education which were allegedly paid for but never delivered

Treasurer Velega Savali was appointed as Acting Governor late Friday.

Our correspondent says the Lt, Governor was held at the Honolulu federal detention center upon arrival Saturday evening.

Governor Togiola Tulafono who has been off-island was scheduled to return home last night.