The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) has terminated the services of four employees in connection to the alleged misappropriation of $15,000 Government funds.
This was confirmed by M.E.S.C. Minister, Loau Keneti Sio, during an interview with the Samoa Observer, yesterday.
“The (services of) four employees have been terminated in accordance to the advice by the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
“All government employment status is overseen by the P.S.C. as indicated under the law.
“They conducted their investigation and they can also advise the C.E.O. on the next step as a result of the investigation.”
The Minister said that the former employees are accused of misappropriating $15,000.
“From what I was told, the employees had removed the funds from the petty cash,” explained Loau.
The Minister also issued a warning to M.E.S.C. employees that there is zero tolerance for such criminal behavior.
“To my staff, don’t do it because there are consequences to your actions and the Government will terminate anyone who steals from the Government.”
Asked as to what measure M.E.S.C. has taken to assure this does not occur, the Minister said this is not taken lightly.
“M.E.S.C. does not have an internal auditor and I’m certain this is how these people got away with misappropriating government funds, there is no auditor to monitor the finances.
“There is no check and balance and that is why it is pertinent that one must be hired.
“Having an internal auditor is critical and I have advised the Ministry about the need to hire one, even if it means increasing the salary to attract accountants, but we will do what must be done to assure there is no repetition of such behaviours.
“This is not the first time funds have been misappropriated within the Ministry, however the Police could not prosecute the case due to the fact there is insufficient evidence to proceed.
“I think the case was withdrawn due to the lack of evidence, so we must hire an internal auditor,” explained Loau.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Police has launched an investigation into the matter.
“An official complaint was lodged from the M.E.S.C. last week and as of now, an investigation is underway,” said Police Superintendent Auapaau Logoitino Filipo.
“And we cannot further comment until the investigation is completed.”
Asked whether the four suspects have been questioned, Auapa’au did not say.