U.S. STILL MUM ON AMERICAN SAMOA CORRUPTION PROBE

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, April 27) - Its been more than a year since federal agents raided three government offices in American Samoa and very little has surfaced about the ongoing federal investigation about public corruption in American Samoa.

Time and time again, when Samoa News has contacted the FBI, the response has been that the federal agency can't offer comments at this time.

"It's an ongoing investigation" and the "investigation is looking into public corruption matters" was all Robert J. Casey, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI Office in Honolulu said when questioned about it again yesterday. "If anything" comes out of this investigation, Casey said it's "most likely" that the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington will file charges at the federal court in Washington D.C., or seek special permission for charges to be handled by the U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

"This would be a Justice Department decision" not FBI, said Casey, who was among the senior FBI agents involved during the March 2005 raid, where hundreds of ASG documents including tax and customs records and computer information were taken back to Honolulu for evaluation and analysis.

In February this year, the Samoa News reported that the FBI had advised Lt. Gov. Ipulasi A. Sunia, whose office was one of the three that was raided by federal agents, and Sen. Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen, to consider hiring an attorney to counsel them regarding their federal investigation.

Ipulasi and Tulifua were among the 34 names of government officials and employees, businesses and business owners listed on federal warrants in March of last year.

The Justice Department, along with the FBI, are taking public corruption cases very seriously across the U.S. and this message was reiterated yesterday during the National Association of Attorneys General meeting in Chicago, Illinois on the "Presidential Initiative on Public Corruption".

The conference "is an excellent opportunity for state and federal law enforcement leaders to reaffirm our commitment to combat corruption in every aspect of government service," said Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty during his speech at the conference.

"Public corruption is a threat to the American form of government and the blessings of liberty that flow from it," said McNulty. "Therefore, detecting, punishing and deterring public corruption must be a top priority of all law enforcement."

By "detecting and prosecuting those in government who betray the public trust, you make our nation stronger," said McNulty in a copy of his speech distributed to the national media yesterday.

April 28, 2006

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

 

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