12 Dec 2002

American Samoa auditor seeks opinion on probing legislature

5:12 pm on 12 December 2002

American Samoa's acting territorial auditor, Faumuina Francis Sefo, says he wants to know if his office can audit the territory's legislature.

Faumuina has raised the issue with the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs, David Cohen .

Mr Cohen had told a meeting last week that federal funding for territories and freely associated states will depend in part on the strength and independence of territorial audit offices.

The Fono, which has an annual budget of more than 3-million US dollars, is in charge of its own spending.

In the early 1990s, the House of Representatives refused an audit of its books by the Territorial Audit Office.

Faumuina says the matter was referred to the Attorney General's Office at the time but it was never resolved and the legislature has never been audited since.

He says that is why he asked Mr Cohen for his opinion.

Mr Cohen says he is currently looking into the matter.