The Public Service Commission has expressed "concerns" over the handling of the Ministry of Customs and Revenue in their initial investigation into the former ACEO of MCR, Alvin Onesemo, saying it was politically motivated.
This was revealed in the PSC 30 page “full investigation” report prepared by PSC Assistant CEO Maiavatele Timothy Fesili that was submitted to Cabinet.
Last week Cabinet Alvin 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 misconduct in the release of the container to his cousin, now Cabinet Minister Toelupe Pou Onesemo.
The Minister of Communication and Information Technology told Radio Polynesia that he paid his duty taxes as per the law.
He said the customs and PSC conducted their investigation and they have the results.
“All I know they did their process at which custom and quarantine personnel attended to check, [and did] the paper work and I paid for duty as anyone else,” said the Minister in response to questions from Radio Polynesia.
The PSC report highlighted that Alvin’s case was treated differently compared to other cases handled by the Commission and the MCR.
In this case, the MCR’s internal investigation was conducted at a record pace without allowing Alvin to formally responses to any of the allegations and that in matters of serious allegations and consequences against a public servant it is a prerequisite that a Ministry conducts a thorough investigation before making any decision that could adversely affect an employee’s career and their family.
Furthermore the PSC noted the MCR former CEO Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautualii referred this matter to the Police before the PSC could complete its investigation and it goes against standard procedure whereas PSC handles the disciplinary actions including investigations into allegations of wrongdoing.
Radio Polynesia reached out to Matafeo via cell phone, but efforts were unsuccessful.
Afterwards the PSC would then decide whether charges are proven or not and advise Cabinet accordingly before referring the matter to the Attorney General’s office with the police thereon.
According to PSC, in this case there was no official complaint from a member of the public or complaint directly to the Police and that it was the Ministry of Customs and Revenue who took the matter to the Police.
The PSC says there was also a direct involvement of the former Minister Tialavea Tionisio Hunt instructing the MCR to investigate Alvin “rarely a Member of Parliament or a Cabinet Minister is directly involved in the procedure of managing misconduct or determining the issue of parallel investigation”.
Repeated calls to Tialavea for comments were not answered.
The PSC reiterated that Alvin’s case was "treated differently" and the urgency in handling the matter and "the involvement of political figures throughout the process was concerning" and “the case had the hallmarks of a political motive, if not the perception of one”.
Also the PSC noted there were allegations of commercial containers being passed through Customs under the guise of private and personal effects and despite the former CEO being alerted, but no action was taken by the Ministry of Customs and Revenue at the time.