2 Oct 2006

Leader of Samoa Party to return Transparency award

12:13 pm on 2 October 2006

The leader of the Samoa Party, Su'a Rimoni Ah Chong, is to return the Transparency International Award he won for his fight against corruption.

In a television interview, Su'a said it was the right thing to do after he was fined for bribery.

Transparency International awarded Su'a an Integrity Award in 2003 for his efforts to combat corruption in government.

Su'a said he didn't want the name of a reputable organisation such as Transparency International tarnished by his conviction.

Su'a was sacked as Samoa's Auditor General after he issued a report which showed that governemnt ministers were benefitting from government contracts apologised to the organisation.

He said it was ironic that in trying to fight corruption by running in the elections he has been found guilty of corruption.

Su'a was convicted of bribery for giving a distant relative a new television set two days from the 31 March general election.

He defended his gift by saying that he wasn't thinking of the elections when he gave the television set, only that an elderly member of his family needed a TV set.

It surfaced during his trial that he had given another elderly relative a TV set before the election period and had been giving the elderly and sick in his village of Lano, each a sack of rice and $100 for Christmas since 2001.

Su'a did not hand out any Christmas gifts in December 2005 for fear of being accused of bribery.