24 Aug 2017

Samoa minister resigns over deception charge

7:26 am on 24 August 2017

Samoa's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and former Parliamentary speaker, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, has resigned his portfolios after being charged with obtaining money by deception.

Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The minister's wife and another person have also been charged.

The Samoa Observer reported the minister allegedly obtained more than $US50,000.

Laauli told the local media he was innocent and the truth would be revealed in court.

Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said Laauli would remain as an MP.

"This charge relates to the nonu juice business in which the minister is a director. He is charged with one count of obtaining by deception.

"His wife is also facing one count of the same charge, with one other director also facing a charge of obtaining a forged document."

All three charged are to make their first court appearance on 18 September.

The charges carry maximum jail terms of seven years.

The charges followed a complaint by another director of the company, the Associate Minister for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Police Ministry, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.