MNRE Principal Watershed Management Officer reprimanded for misconduct


The Principal Watershed Management Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been reprimanded by the Chief Executive Officer, for misconduct. 

This is over claims that Lotomaulalo Levi allegedly used vetiver grass belonging to the Ministry for commercial interests yet the Ministry watershed program distributes seedlings for free, a clear breach of her role as a Principal Office. 

This was confirmed in a letter dated the 27 June, by the MNRE Chief Executive Officer, Lealaisalanoa Frances Brown-Reupena addressed to Peseta Leiataua Elisaia, Managing Director of the Garden View Landscaping Company, who lodged an official complaint against Ms. Levi five months ago. 

The correspondence was obtained by Radio Polynesia.

The CEO confirmed the MNRE has been piloting the propagation of the Vetiver grass as part of their nursery works to assist with their ongoing riverine maintenance program.

Adding that allegations towards a Senior Staff member who is responsible for the daily management of the MNRE nursery have been fully investigated. 

“I can confirm that there were breaches to the Code of Ethics under the Public Service Act 2009 section 19(a) (1) by Ms. Lotomaulalo Levi a Principal Watershed Officer due to her failure to be honest and impartial and failure to uphold the good reputation of the public service,” said the CEO. 

Radio Polynesia made efforts to get comments from Ms. Levi since Monday, however, were unsuccessful as of press time.

Furthermore the breaches “arose from a clear conflict of interest with a Nursery Business belonging to Ms Levi; the disclosure of information in relation to the procurement process to prospective clients including to Gardenview Landscaping and pot plant. 

“And the use of vetiver for commercial interest that are in clear breach with her role as the Principal Management Officer.” 

The CEO noted that seedlings are distributed for free to members of the public. 

“The issue in this instance is that the Vetiver was clearly used for a commercial purpose by Ms. Levi.” 

The CEO also pointed out the Principal Officer is “remorseful and regrets her poor judgment and negligence in the performance of her official duties and responsibilities.” 

Adding the Principal Officer had since been given a “final warning”. 

“Any further misconduct will result in immediate termination of services” taken into account her 12 years of service and had demonstrated exceptional performance in meeting her key performance targets. 

“Also Ms. Levi has no previous record of misconduct,” said Leaalaisalanoa.