13 Aug 2009

US corruption case of two American Samoan leaders under review

3:18 pm on 13 August 2009

Federal prosecutors are reviewing a US court decision yesterday which dismissed portions of an indictment handed down in 2007 against the then American Samoa lieutenant governor Faoa Sunia and a territorial senator, Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen.

Both had been accused of conspiring to split a large project for school furniture construction among companies they owned and a third company owned by another official.

The federal government claimed the duo was to share more than three quarters of a million US dollars through the contract.

But this week, a District Court Judge in Washington, D.C. threw out two obstruction counts in the six-count indictment.

He also dismissed parts of three other counts concerning fraud and bribery.

A Justice Department spokesperson in Washington, Laura Sweeney, says the decision is being reviewed.

She says the two defendants remain charged with public corruption offences, with trial set for November this year.

Mr Sunia's lawyer, Stephen Anthony, praised the ruling, saying that the defence is grateful the judge has carefully analysed the issues.