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Termination of former CEO done according to law, ASTCA chair says

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Reasons behind shake up in ASTCA leadership still unexplained

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The termination letter served to the former CEO of the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) Ms. Falavaoto Sualevai was carried out according to the law and was also carefully reviewed by the ASTCA Board. This was the response by the Chairman of the Board of ASTCA Alex Sene Jr when questioned by Samoa News regarding this matter.

Sene Jr did not offer much information regarding the matter. He confirmed to Samoa News that the termination letter had been served to the former CEO and the Board gave her 30 days to respond.

“I cannot offer much information regarding the matter because it’s still pending in front of the ASTCA Board. I can only confirm that the termination letter has been served to the former CEO of ASTCA and the Board is still waiting for her to respond,” Sene Jr said.

When asked about the reason behind the Board’s decision, the chairman of the ASTCA Board did not respond.

He said, “Well, we followed the law regarding Human Resources issues when the Board prepared the termination letter. We also carefully reviewed the statute about special contracts and we’re hoping to get a response from her within the 30 day period.”

With regards to the issue of former ASTCA Board member Iulogologo J. Pereira, Sene Jr confirmed that Iulogologo is no longer a board member since January of this year when Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga issued a memorandum which included his new nominees for the ASTCA Board.

A source told Samoa News that an employment contract for the now replaced CEO Sualevai is said to be the cause of her removal.

Sources in ASG have told Samoa News that the current ASTCA board discovered that her employment contract, which is for five years, was signed by only one member of the former ASTCA Board — Iulogologo, who was also the Chairman of the former Board of ASTCA.


Last week, the Governor’s Office and the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) announced in a joint press release that the ASTCA Board of Directors had selected Mr. Chuck Leota as the acting CEO, beginning March 24, 2021.

“Mr. Leota is a well-known and seasoned Telecom Executive with experience in network development, capacity building, Administration, and business development,” said the statement.

According to the joint announcement improvements in information technology and telecommunications remain a priority of the Administration, and these initiatives will promote innovation while investing in viable emerging technologies and markets. “I do not doubt that Mr. Leota is a great fit for the interim position,” the release said.  

The statement concluded with, “ASTCA also wishes to acknowledge and thank Ms. Fala Sualevai for her years of service and her contributions as CFO, COO, and CEO. Many important achievements occurred during this period, and we are grateful for her service.”

Governor Lemanu stated “ASTCA is helping to usher American Samoa into a new digital era, and they will serve as a major contributor in standing up the digital e-commerce industry.

In January of this year, Gov. Lemanu issued a memo appointing new board members for ASTCA. Because ASTCA has continued to operate under an executive order for more than 20 years, its board members are not subject to Fono confirmation and therefore the governor — in his Jan. 20th memo appointed the seven board members and also appointed the new chair, Sene Jr., a former ASTCA chief executive officer.

Sene along with Omar Shalhout and Seumalo Sofa are the three private sector board members. The At-Large members are Sen. Utu Sila Poasa, Alofagia Nomura, Taiulagi Mauga and Tuni Tauiliili.

Terms of all board members expire in January 2023, according to the governor’s memo, which supersedes the one issued late last year and any other “guidance in conflict” with the Lemanu new memo.

As previously reported by Samoa News then-Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga through a Dec. 3, 2020 memo re-appointed four members of the ASTCA board. Among the re-appointed members were Iulogologo Joseph Pereira who was also reappointed as board chairman.

Aside from Iulogologo, the other members — Alofagia Nomura, Taiulagi Asuega and Omar Shalhout were re-appointed with terms to expire in December 2022.