AMERICAN SAMOA SIREN GRANT BOUGHT TVS, TRIPS

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FBI reportedly probing government over diverted grants

HONOLULU (ABC News, Nov. 2, 2009) –— The FBI is investigating government corruption in tsunami-ravaged American Samoa, according to a CNN report which shows millions of taxpayer dollars that were supposed to create a tsunami warning system went missing.

The earthquake and tsunamis in American Samoa left 34 people dead last September.

Documents show U.S. taxpayers shelled out nearly $13 million in disaster preparedness grants since 2003, including construction of a tsunami warning system.

American Samoa’s former homeland security advisor, who was fired two years ago, said he was working on a plan for warning sirens, but claims some money went missing to pay for extra government jobs.

Government reports also show some money paid for travel and entertainment charges in Las Vegas, flat screen TVs and expensive leather chairs.

American Samoa’s governor said there was a disaster study, but no plan for a warning system.

"I was trying to get verification of what happened to that application, but I wasn’t able to get the definite information," Gov. Togioloa Tulafono said.

Tenari Ma’afala leads the Honolulu police union and lost two family members in American Samoa. He said that if the report is true, he is "angered and embarrassed for the Samoan community."

Evonne Andrews, whose aunt drowned in the tsunamis, said government officials were greedy.

"It’s messed up what they did with the money," Andrews said.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation © 2009 ABC

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