SAMOA BANK RETURNS LAND TO RIGHTFUL OWNER

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Perpetrator charged with two counts of fraud

By Taina Kami Enoka APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 4, 2012) - Theresa Taufau Stowers could not have wished for a better Christmas and start to the New Year in Samoa.

This is thanks to an email dated 28 December 2011, from the Samoa Commercial Bank’s (SCB) managing director, Lemalu Ray Ah Liki, confirming the release of her property. The email is addressed to Mrs Stowers and her daughter Edwina.

The property had been sold to former MP Toluono Feti Toluono, and mortgaged to SCB. The court case has been ongoing since last month, and continues in the Supreme Court on January 9, 2012.

Toluono has been charged with two counts of fraud relating to the land belonging to Mrs Stowers and Rosita Burke. "Thank you for your email message which included season’s greetings and kind words.

Firstly, I must convey my sympathy to your mother and your family for the prolonged and sad experience you had to endure due to greedy and dishonest deeds by some people.

"Samoa Commercial Bank never had any desire to sell your property (legally mortgaged to the bank) to reduce Toluono Feti’s loan balance after we found out that the property was owned by your mother but ownership was conveyed illegally to another person. "The bank felt that it would be unethical and absolutely not right to foreclose on this security as it was fraudulently acquired, before being mortgaged to SCB."

Lemalu continues that he regrets SCB was not able to discharge the mortgage as quickly as they wanted to, but the bank had to firstly obtain the concurrence of Toluono, before the property could be discharged.

"I now have a clear conscience and I am glad that your mother and your family will be at peace, with a joyous festive season to look forward to, without more worries. He conveyed sincere condolences to her mother and family over the predicament that had "tormented you all over the past year".

Lemalu said he looked forward to meeting Ms Stowers and her mother on their next visit to Samoa. Lemalu told the Samoan Observer that once he found out that the land actually belonged to Theresa and was crookedly sold by this lady to Toluono, he planned to return it.

"…It’s against my conscience and the bank to sell this property. It belongs to that lady. It has to go back to her. I’ve always indicated to my staff, tell the family don’t worry. They’ll finally get their land back," he said.

The delay was due to legal reasons. It was only when Toluono signed an agreement with the bank that SCB could return it to Mrs Stowers.

"This [is] a good Christmas and New Year gift for Mrs Stowers. I got an email from them just before Christmas. I think they’re very happy."

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