MOH ACEO accused of misconduct, placed on suspension, pending PSC investigation


Cabinet has suspended the Ministry of Health’s ACEO, Agnes Stowers, accused of falsifying documents that led to awarding a $48,000 tala contract to her father-in-law’s company.

This was confirmed by the Cabinet Minister who said the decision was made yesterday, in a brief interview with Radio Polynesia.

The Health’s Internal Audit cited the ACEO in question for conflict of interest and claims the familial ties were not disclosed nor did she take the steps to avoid it.

Stowers however is disputing the Health’s Internal Audit report noting that she “disagree” with that report,” in an interview with Radio Polynesia.

An Internal Audit Report dated 21 November, 2021 obtained by Radio Polynesia, says this came to light after the Health Management queried the condition of the work conducted by Transworks Company and the Internal Audit stepped in for a review.

The matter was then referred to the Public Service Commission for investigation.

The PSC Commissioner, Lauano Vaosa Epa confirmed the investigation is underway response to questions from Radio Polynesia.

“I can confirm that at the request of the Ministry itself, the PSC is thereby currently conducting an investigation.

“As you will appreciate, the nature of the investigation remains confidential as a full report to Cabinet is pending.”

According to Lauano their investigation commenced 21 February 2022 and is ongoing.

Asked whether the PSC will recommend placing the ACEO on suspension pending their investigation, the Commissioner said the submission has already been made.

“To protect the integrity of the process and to allow the investigation to proceed unhindered, the Commission as it deems necessary makes the relevant recommendation to Cabinet on conditions stipulated in our Act [and that] Cabinet has already decided as of [Thursday] today.

The Internal Audit Report noted that it was endorsed by the Principal Maintenance Officer in support of payment to the Company, stating the work was completed and satisfactory.

However the Internal Audit inspection with the Principal Maintenance Officer confirmed the works were incomplete in accordance with the agreed scope of work which indicated there should be three coats of paints and to replace screen wires.

Furthermore the report says the quotation of $48,300 was to pay for labor as the material of paint and new screen wires were supplied by the Ministry of Health.

The Internal Audit further claims the involvement of Ms Stowers with the preparation and following up on payment was also questioned as during verification of payment documentation the Audit uncovered that Transworks is owned by Ms Stowers’ Father in law, which the Auditor claims she did not disclose.

The Transworks company claims the scope of works indicated that one coat of paint is to be applied and that only damaged screen wires were to be replaced.