$300 million pillaged in PNG graft

Rowan Callick - The Australian

A CABAL of top public servants and lawyers have hijacked Papua New Guinea’s government chequebook, plundering more than $300 million through sham compensation claims. The rorts include Finance Secretary Gabriel Yer initiating a spurious claim of $700,000 for himself and 225 people from his home village. He delivered the money to a dozen of them whom he had flown to Port Moresby, in a case containing 50-kina notes.

A devastating judicial report detailing the conspiracy, commissioned and tabled in parliament by Prime Minister Michael Somare last month, shows the collapse of PNG’s control over its finances. This is despite the Australian government spending more than $160m in the past decade on programs to "strengthen governance" in PNG, through highly paid Australian advisers.

When Sir Michael finally managed to table the report after three years and numerous legal battles, lawyer Paul Paraka and former solicitor-general Zacchary Gelu — both named in its 812 pages — obtained a court injunction banning any publication of its findings within PNG, where public interest in its contents is intense. 

The Australian has obtained a copy of the report, which details a dramatic and pervasive web of corruption. Sir Michael is now waging the greatest battle of his 40 years in parliament — to wrest back control of the country’s finances from the corrupt nexus, who have been approving and settling vast payouts for claims with scant or no evidence, and sharing the cash with claimants and lawyers.

The report also details $1.5m in compensation claims by former chief secretary Isaac Lupari, once the head of PNG's public service and an economic adviser to Sir Michael, over contracts for four top government jobs.

Mr Lupari, whose lawyer, Mr Paraka, received $320,000 costs, suffered no loss, said the inquiry, and the claims amounted to "triple and quadruple dipping".

Among 57 people recommended for criminal prosecution are PNG's finance secretary and his predecessor; the former chief secretary; a former attorneygeneral and former solicitor-general; an MP; several prominent lawyers and others.

Sir Michael said when tabling the findings in parliament last month: "When you read this report, you cannot help but shudder in awe at the level of corruption that has permeated key government departments and agencies tasked with managing public monies."

The group of wealthy Papua New Guineans who have siphoned off vast sums from the government is so confident of its capacity to keep doing so that it last week pushed through $6m claimed by controversial former politician Peter Yama for alleged loss of business from developing government land in Madang, where he runs a security company. The claim was declared baseless in the report but was settled while the Prime Minister was out of the country.


Staggering, it would be a real coup if this report could be made public in its entirety via the internet to ensure its widest circulation.

If anyone has a copy of the full report then please forward it to ACT NOW!

I understand that there is currently a court injuntion in place to stop the findings of the report to be made public. I think the same injunction also stops all executing agencies including police and OC to start implementing the recommendations of the Finance Commission of Inquiry.

I suggest we, the general public and civil society, launch a public campaign similar to the current petition to stop the so called Maladina Amendments and force these guys to withdraw their court injunctions and allow the police, OC etc etc to start prosecuting the findings of the inquiry.

To remain silent on this issue is IS NOT AN OPTION.

Meanwhile, if someone can let us know about the exact terms of that court injunction and let's get some discussion going on how best to attack that it and allow the executing agencies to now start kicking arse.

These guys are the real culprits and deserve to rot in jail. NO MERCY on these traitors.

Crime and corruption is very rife in PNG. The so called leaders are taking advantage knowing the public are ignorant and powerless.Does that mean there is NO PEOPLE POWER or PEOPLE POWER is non-workable in PNG and let CORRUPTION Perviat every sector of society?

Let's grab a copy of the whole findings, identify areas santioned in the court injunction and go for a similar campaign done to Maladina's amendment. WE CAN NOT WAIT to see PNG sting and rot in the hands of so called leaders of ours. There were masacres, assasinations, to leaders as history is concerned. Is that not possible? But let's show them we uphold real democracy-the people. We could manoeuvre and downturn the trend of politics in PNG for the better and good of ALL!

Those of you who have read the article please break the barrier of ignorance by spreading the word on the streets of Moresby and PNG, let everyone from the street kids to the old people know what is happening. Some people are struggling to live every day, while those highly paid bureaucrats and lawyers are not satisfied with what they have and want more. So pathetic! The onus is on us the middle class in PNG, let us Act Now for a better tomorrow using people power!

It is time now that we stand up for our counrty and our selvess. I support Kitchz. Articles like this one posted on ACT Now should be out to the public and public campaing and awareness against this guys and their injuction should take place so that those guilty of their crimes be punished. People are aware of the mind boggling corrutpion that exist in PNG, its just that they don't know how to actively involve in the fight against it. It is up to us, those who have access to such information to do something about.


WHY ????



I'm thinking the same way as you Firmin. As much as we would like to respect the courts and the role that the judiciary plays in our country, something somewhere has got to give for this country to progress.

If the justice system becomes an impediment to our country's progress, then something must happen to correct that.

Courts are a refuge for the honest person who is unfairly treated, and not for crooks to go and hide their backsides. Come on people, let's demand that somethting is done about this NOW! Let's ACT NOW!


Aggrieved person can defend themselves later. Its just a reccomendation based on an investigation'.

Persons named and or accused think are innocent until prooven guilty, they can prove it. remember when i was hunting for birds in the woods and heard a bird crying loud and flying near something like a tree or a cave, i knew it had a nest there.

similarly, people who are jumping up and down know something, either they are afraid, or know that they stole public money and want to hide.