Former Minister Tiensten flees to Australia
Eoin Blackwell, AAP
Papua New Guinea’s former planning minister Paul Tiensten has fled to Australia after being served with a summons to answer fraud and corruption allegations.
Police in Kokopo, in East New Britain province, served Mr Tiensten with a summons on Tuesday to appear before a government taskforce and answer questions over the misappropriation of 10 million kina ($A4.4 million) in development funds in his electorate.
But the next day, Mr Tiensten flew to PNG’s capital Port Moresby and then to Brisbane after buying a ticket at the airport, said Sam Koim, chairman of the corruption task force.
Mr Tiensten has since disappeared.
“It is not known where he is at the moment,” Mr Koim told AAP on Thursday.
“He bought a ticket at the airport, bought a ticket to Moresby and then all the way to Australia … he disappeared.
“We thought he was a gentleman and a leader and as a gentleman and leader he would come (to the police).”
Mr Koim said PNG is working closely with Australian authorities to find Mr Tiensten.
As part of the Somare government, Mr Tiensten was a negotiator on the $16 billion Exxon Mobil-led liquefied natural gas project, currently expected to double the country’s gross domestic product over the next 30 years.
Mr Tiensten is no stranger to controversy.
In 2008, Singaporean businessman Wu Shih-tsa told a Taiwanese court six prominent PNG officials, including Mr Tiensten, received a portion of $US20 million ($A19 million) put up by Taiwan in a bid to strengthen diplomatic relations with PNG.
Mr Tiensten has admitted to meeting Taiwanese officials but strongly denied allegations of corruption.