4 Jan 2008

Oil company employees charged with theft in American Samoa

11:17 am on 4 January 2008

The employees of two local oil companies arrested and charged over the alleged theft of diesel fuel say they made 90,000 US dollars in nearly 3 years.

A fishing boat owner, Soo Dong Kim has also been charged in connection with the theft.

The other defendants are Aipolo Mao, Apineru Tasimani, Savili Anesone and Mickie Kitiona.

The Fiji Regional Office of British Petroleum sent an investigation team to American Samoa last May after noticing substantial losses.

The probe found that about 253,000 gallons of diesel was unaccounted from January 2005 to May 2007.

Our Correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, says the fishing boat owner has posted bail, while the others are still in custody.

"It was supposed to be the arraignment in the High Court of the four oil company workers but I think that has been postponed till later on this week. And the fishing boat owner is the only one that has not waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the District Court and that will be next week and then his case will proceed from there. The preliminary court hearing in the District Court is to determine if there is probable evidence to move forward with the case, but the other defendents waived their rights to a preliminary examination and District Court."