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Health ACEO suspended while PSC investigates allegations

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 04 MARCH 2022: The Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACEO) of the Finance & Procurement Division of the Ministry of Health, Agnes Stowers has been suspended while the Public Service Commission investigates the allegations against her.

The PSC Chair, Lauano Vaosa Epa confirmed the investigation.

Based on PSC’s recommendation, Cabinet decided to suspend the ACEO in their meeting yesterday.

“To protect the integrity of the process and to allow the investigation to proceed unhindered, the Commission made the recommendation to Cabinet based on conditions stipulated in the Act,” she said.

Lauano said the investigation which started 21 February 2022 was on the request from the Ministry of Health.

Allegations against the ACEO surfaced after the Ministry’s Internal Auditor found inconsistencies with the way the ACEO awarded a contract to a company linked to her father-in-law, a former Cabinet minister.

The auditor’s report on 26 November 2021 cited the ACEO’s failure to declare her conflict of interest to Transworks Ltd and alleged falsifying documents to procure payments for the contractor.

Also noted in the report is her personal involvement in the process to secure payment from the Ministry of Finance for contractor.

The investigation could take some time and the report will be tabled for Cabinet’s final decision.