Woman Accused In Samoa Liquor Smuggling

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Authorities report 31 year-old falsified import documents

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 28, 2013) – A 31-year-old woman has been accused of falsifying documents in relation to a consignment of over 900 cartons of liquor smuggled into Samoa with false importation documents, last month.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, Assistant Police Commissioner Fauono Talalelei Tapu said the woman, who is an employee of a local freight company, has been charged with falsifying documents.

Pressed about the identity of the woman and whether she worked for a company connected to Member of Parliament, Levaopolo Talatonu, Fauono wouldn't budge.

"I can’t confirm or deny that," he said. "You will just have to wait until she appears in court. She will appear in court on the 16th April 2013."

Fauono said the woman is unlikely to be the last person to be charged in relation to the container. He said the Police investigation is continuing. Meanwhile, Fauono said everything about the accused woman would be revealed in Court.

"She’s a 31-year-old woman who works for one of the local companies that took in the smuggled container in," he said.

"I cannot give you her name or the name of the company. That will be revealed on a future date when more information on the investigation surfaces. At the moment, that is the latest development."

On Sunday, Tautua Samoa Party Member of Parliament, Levaopolo broke his silence and denied having anything to do with the container. The Tautua Party’s Shadow Minister for Works also dismissed allegations that the container was stored at his company warehouse.

"I am not involved in this," he said. "For your information, it’s only exported documents that can be done by an agency here and only officers at Customs can clear that container from the wharf.

"I have dug up documents from my company and there are no records of the container in my company."

In the original media statement from Revenue and Customs when the undeclared liquor was first discovered, the Ministry confirmed that it was carrying out an investigation into the manner in which the consignment of liquor was imported.

"The Ministry was alerted to the fact that a certain brand of imported liquor was being sold at retail outlets around Upolu," stated the media release of 9 March.

"A preliminary investigation was then carried out which resulted in the location and seizure of approximately 918 cartons of whiskey, bearing the labels, "VAT 999 Whiskey" and "Democrat Scotch Whiskey."

"The Ministry has also been able to retrieve these products from approximately seven retailers in the Apia area, who received deliveries of these products. Inspections of liquor retailers are ongoing.

"The main investigation is now focused on confirming the identity of the importer of this consignment. The Ministry has enlisted the assistance of the Police Service to expedite the inquiry.

"A number of persons whose names cannot be disclosed at this stage, are suspected of being involved in this matter. Investigations are ongoing."

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