11 Oct 2017

Former Samoa govt minister and four others face 233 charges

8:33 am on 11 October 2017

Samoa's former minister of Agriculture and Fisheries who is a shareholder and director of the Local Partners and Associates nonu company, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, and three other company directors as well as an employee are facing 233 criminal charges.

Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The prosecution lawyer has revealed the final charges when the case was heard yesterday in the district court.

The former minister alone is facing 161 charges including 88 counts of theft by a person in a special relationship, 16 counts each of obtaining by deception and causing loss by deception, 40 charges of straight theft and one of forgery.

The other director and former president of the Journalist Association of Samoa, Lance Polu is facing 51 charges including 16 each of theft by a person with a special relationship, causing loss by deception, and obtaining by deception.

He also faces one charge each of straight theft, forgery, and using a forged document.

The former government minister's wife, Heather Tupea Schmidt, is facing seven charges including one of straight theft, and 3 each of causing loss by deception, and theft by a person with special relationship.

The company's employee, Tuitui Aiolupotea, faces 13 charges which includes six theft by a person with special relationship and seven of causing loss by deception.

The company director, Martin Schwalger faces one count of forgery.

All five defendants have not entered a plea because the district court judge has accepted an application for the defence lawyers to be given one week to look into the final charges.

The case has also been referred to the Supreme Court because the district court does not have jurisdiction on charges of forgery and obtaining by deception.

The case will be heard again on Monday next week for mention before the chief judge.

The police case against the five defendants was the result of a complaint filed by a company director and Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.