21 Aug 2004

American Samoa official accused of arranging kickbacks

8:07 am on 21 August 2004

A senior government official in American Samoa has been accused of conspiring to rig bids for contracts in exchange for cash kickbacks.

Deputy Director of the Department of Human and Social Services Patolo Mageo is named in a criminal complaint filed this week by the US Department of Justice.

The complaint relates to contracts which were, together, worth more than $US120,000.

Alleged co-conspirators, including an official of the U.S. territory of American Samoa who operated a construction company that received at least two of the contracts, weren't named.

Under American Samoa's procurement rules, all contracts valued at more than US$10,000 must be put up for bid.

According to the complaint, in early 2002, Mageo approved several contracts valued at more than US$10,000 each, including two construction contracts to the Samoa Wood Products company for the Women, Infants and Children government building in American Samoa.

Samoa Wood Products is owned by former Chief Procurement Officer Faau Seumanutafa, who pled guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to defraud the US government and will be sentenced next year.