MOH ACEO under scrutiny by the Health’s Internal Auditor over alleged misconduct


The Ministry of Healths’ Assistant Chief Executive Officer Agnes Stowers, overseeing the Finance and Procurement Division has come under scrutiny by the Health’s Internal Audit over claims that a $48,000 tala contract was awarded to her father in law’s company, Transworks Limited.

But Ms Stowers “disagrees” with the Internal Auditor’s report, noting she will await the investigation by the PSC, when contacted by Radio Polynesia for comments.

The Health’s Internal Audit also 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.

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

The Internal Audit findings were addressed to the Director General of the Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri and signed by Sam Fruean, the Internal Auditor.

The work outlined the scope of works is interior painting and replacement of screen wires for the staff residence building through quote and procurement process.

The inspection report endorsed by the Principal Maintenance Officer in support for payment to the Company, stated 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.

The inspection found there was one coat of painting that was applied and that damaged screen wires on the top floor were not replaced.

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.

Emails to the Director General were also unanswered.

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 she did not disclose.

In November, the Health’s Internal Audit requested the Ministry of Finance to delay the payment while they verify the claims.

This was after it was approved by the Samoa Audit Office for payment, according to the audit findings.

Furthermore the Health’s internal audit claims the position of the ACEO gives her insider advantage and privy to information that is not available to supplied and Transworks bid was the second cheapest.

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.

The internal auditor also recommended for this matter to be referred to the Public Service Commission for further investigation.