SIC hearing with ASG Treasurer closed to public
The Senate Investigative Committee’s questioning of ASG’s top money man regarding the $1.2 million in government grant funds frozen at a bank in Vietnam ended up being closed to the public — including the news media — as sensitive matters were discussed.
ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i appeared yesterday before SIC based on subpoenas, which also asked that he provide several documents—but the specific details of the documents have not being made public.
SIC chairman Sen. Lualemaga Faoa reminded the witness that the subpoenas also sought documents from the Treasurer, who told the committee “I have the information but because of the sensitive nature of the issue, I was informed by the FBI to keep this information [confidential] until we receive the money.”
“And that’s why I cannot provide this information for the committee,” said the 66-year old ASG official. He also said that “everything else” pertaining to this case, is under the FBI jurisdiction.
With that reply, Lualemaga then called a brief SIC recess so he could consult with the members and the Fono’s legal counsel, based on Magalei’s testimony. The Treasurer, along with the news media were asked to wait in the Fono corridors while the committee was in consultation.
But when the hearing resumed with Magalei, a Senate staffer informed reporters about Lualemaga’s directive that the hearing would now be closed to the media and the public.
With the hearing closed, it’s unclear as to the status of efforts to have the $1.2 million in federal grants frozen at the Vietnam International Bank released after a Treasury Department computer was allegedly hacked into in late August of last year.
Closing an SIC hearing — or any Fono standing committee hearing — because of “sensitive information” has occurred over the years, but it has been very rare.
During Tuesday’s SIC hearing, Treasury Department chief accountant Levi Reese was also not able to answer any questions pertaining to this case, saying that they were told by the FBI not to discuss or release any information until it is closed.
Magalei told Samoa News last month that the $1.2 million remained frozen at the Vietnamese bank, while its officials await a final report from their country’s authorities.