Senate questions how $4.5 million was transferred without proper verification
Senate President Tuaolo questioned how the $4.5 million was transferred without proper verification by the Department of Treasury and, in a hearing held today before the Senate regarding the hospital’s subsidy from the government, made its way into an account with a bank based in Florida.
Treasurer Malemo Tausaga informed Senators they received a resolution indicating the hospital wanted the Treasury to transfer their subsidies to an account with West Fargo Bank.
They followed suit by making this transfer.
However, it was later discovered that the resolution, which was on the letterhead of LBJ along with the signatures of the Board Members, was the work of scammers.
Malemo explained luckily, the money remains in the US jurisdiction, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now investigating this matter. He further noted that nearly $300,000 had been returned, but the remaining $3 million will soon arrive via cashier’s check in the next two weeks.
The explanation did not sit well with the Senate President, who asked whether the Treasury verified with the hospital they had changed their bank.
Tuaolo said the Treasury needed to be more careful in carrying out its duties by verifying whether the hospital had submitted a resolution to change its banks.
Tuaolo reiterated the need for verification, citing that $4 million is a substantial public fund.
Deputy Treasurer Levi Reese also explained what took place.
Tuaolo retook the floor and zeroed in on how critical it is to verify any transactions before any action is taken.
In other aspects of the hearing, before it started, the media were told by the Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations, Utu Sila Poasa the hearing was closed to the public.
This did not sit well with Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, who reminded the critical role of the media in informing and educating the public.
He said the media are the eyes and the ears of the people, and the issue at hand pertains to public funds, and he does not see any legitimate reason to hold the hearing behind closed doors.