Matafeo questions Cabinet’s “leniency” penalty against former ACEO Onesemo


The former Commissioner of the Ministry of Customs and Revenue Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautualii has questioned the Cabinet’s “leniency” penalty levelled against the former Assistant CEO, Alvin Onsemo with a fine of $1,000 tala when he breached the code of conduct.

Matafeo’s concerns against the Cabinet decision are outlined in her letter to Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa dated 6 April, 20202 seeking a copy of the PSC investigation report which accuses her and the Ministry of “political interference” and “collusion”.

In March Onesemo was fined $1,000 and was given a final warning the day before his three-year contract ended as per recommendations by the PSC after he was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in the release of the container to his cousin, now Cabinet Minister Toelupe Pou Onesemo.

She highlighted a similar case in 2015 over the breach of conduct of a former ACEO for not following the Ministry’s lawful procedure, in which the former ACEO had released an importer company’s container without proper authority and consequently, as a result of an actual investigation done, she was terminated outright by the PSC. 

“However in this current case, where Alvin had solely and favourably assessed and released the container of a closely related relative (second cousin) without proper authority, a much bigger scale of breach of code of conduct by a public servant, Alvin gets a stern warning and $1,000 penalty.”

According to Matafeo “this cannot sit well in the public service.

“This is outright discriminatory, where the same laws on the breach of conduct, and penalties imposed are not equally applied to all public servants.”

Matafeo pleaded that “for the sake of the integrity of the public service the investigation should be reviewed against the precedents of the past on former public servants in the MCR”.

“Most if not all management and staff of MCR were stunned and immediately concerned of the implication and message this leniency sends to our staff, and especially, it will encourage conflicting and dishonest behaviour by those not yet known or caught which we at MCR are trying vehemently to stem out,” said Matafeo.