2 Mar 2015

Former Samoa cabinet minister fined for forgery

8:13 pm on 2 March 2015

A former Samoan government Minister, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, has been fined 14 thousand US dollars after being convicted on forgery charges.

Guilty... Samoa's Associate Minister for Trade and Commerce, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him.

Muagututagata Peter Ah Him must pay the US$14,000 this week, or be sentenced to a year in jail. Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Muagututagata must pay it in full this week or he will be sentenced to 12 months jail.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson says he came to this decision after considering all relevant factors and circumstances and deciding a jail term should not be imposed.

Justice Nelson says this is a case of one-off offending by someone who considered himself entitled to compensation for services.

The judge says while that may have been the case, the defendant's methodology was flawed, fraudulent and in breach of the law.

The decision rejected the defence's submission for the court to discharge the defendant without conviction.

Justice Nelson says fraud is a serious crime, even more so when committed by people holding high office.

Muagututagata was an associate minister in the current government until he resigned last month.