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American Samoa governor sued over pension fund

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) -- The board of trustees for American Samoa's $200 million pension fund is suing the governor of the Pacific island chain.

The trustees filed their complaint this week against Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, who is the highest ranking local official in the U.S. territory in Polynesia.

A spokesman for Moliga referred questions to the attorney general's office, which said it would respond in court.

The trustees say Moliga didn't consult them before nominating new board members for the retirement fund in February, despite a legal requirement to do so.

The trustees want the governor to rescind his nominations until the he has consulted with the board.

The board's chairman, Aleki Sene, said the requirement exists to ensure nominees are well qualified and not politically motivated.

"There is just too much to risk when you consider the fact that this fund represents the life savings for most of our current and retired employees and their beneficiaries," Sene said. Sene said the group has a duty to take legal action.

The trustees say Moliga has already asked his nominees to begin working, although they haven't yet been confirmed by the territory Legislature. Lawmakers won't meet to confirm the nominees until July.

Trustees say the retirement fund board is the latest in a series of boards over which Moliga has exerted power without legislative approval. They say other boards he has targeted affect immigration, utilities and health care.