Parliament’s own Accounts Committee and special investigations at the National Capital District have both thrown up detailed allegations of corruption while one criminal prosecution against Tkatchenko was dropped in circumstances questioned by the National Court.
In 2010 it was alleged Tkatchenko received over K3 million in payments from the National Capital District through his landscaping companies Kitoro No.33 and PNG Gardner. It is claimed these payments, were authorised by NCDC Governor Powes Parkop in breach of the Public Finance Management Act, the NCDC Act and the Organic Law on the Leadership Code.
The payments, which were made for work on the NCDC Mini Park, Water Fountain, Waterslide and Zoo and Animal Farm, were made with no quotations provided and no public tendering process – breaching the fundamental principles of value for money, transparency, effective competition, fair and ethical dealing and efficiency.
But the allegations against Tkatchenko go back much further. In 1999 a Special Investigation into Fraud, Corruption and Financial Mismanagement at the National Capital District Commission, done by TSK International, found that Justin Tkatchenko as Acting City Administrator had fraudulently obtained a total of K12,000 through two cheques in the sums of K4,000 and K8,000.
Although the police did investigate these allegations and criminal charges were laid a Magistrate dismissed the case before it got to trial – a decision that was later heavily criticized in the National Court. Indeed when Tkatchenko then sued the police alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment Justice Salika not only dismissed the case brought by Tkatchenko he described it as “frivolous and vexatious”. Salika found there was plenty of evidence to justify the charges against Tkatchenko and that it “is a wonder to this Court” why the Magistrate dismissed the case.
In 2003 the Parliamentary Accounts Committee was asked by Parliament to conduct an investigation into alleged corruption in the Parliamentary Service. The Committee submitted its report in September 2003 after summonsing witnesses and hearing evidence given on oath.
The PAC investigation found Justin Tkatchenko company Kitoro No.33 was awarded a K1.5 million contract to maintain parliamentary gardens, in breach of procurement procedure. The Kitoro tender was received 3 months AFTER the closing date. The tender submitted was only for twelve months but a three year contract was awarded. The original contract amount of K490,000 was K190,000 above the limit imposed by the Public Finance Management Act. The lowest bid for the project tender was just K12,000 per year. Kitoro was awarded contract totaling K837,738 that did not go to public tender.
The PAC recommended the contracts with Kitoro No.33 be terminated immediately and the officers responsible for the tendering, awarding and executing of the contract face ‘appropriate action’.
While Tkatchenko has never been found guilty of fraud he has been implicated in fraud in at least three separate investigations stretching back over a 12-year period and one set of criminal charges he has faced were dismissed in circumstances a senior judge regarded as suspicious and unjustified.
If people like Tkatchenko want to hold public office then we need the allegations against to be heard in a proper public trial first – and not dismissed at the committal stage in suspicious circumstances, if they ever even get that far. If they are innocent what do these people have to hide and until they face due process they are not fit and proper persons to hold public office.
The case of Tkatchenko raises a number of serious and wider questions, including:
- The findings of public accounting bodies are not being followed up by the national fraud squad, despite considerable prima facie evidence.
- When cases are brought before the District Court for committal, fraud charges are being dismissed without reason, despite an abundance of evidence being present. There is often no written record of the judgement, or the records kept are wholly inadequate. At the very least this raises serious questions over the independence of some Magistrates.
NCDC Governor, Powes Parkop, has been defending himself against allegations of financial misdealings in his relationship with PNG Gardiner, Justin Tkatchenko. But for all the fine words from the governor about his humble lifestyle and the conspiracies of his political rivals, the questions remain about the NCDC’s dealings with Tkatchencko.
- Is Tkatchencko a fundraiser for Parkop’s Peoples Social Democratic Front party?
- Were Tkatchencko companies paid over K3 million in 2010 by the NCDC?
- Has Parkop openly declared any conflict of interest in any financial dealings between the NCDC and Tkatchencko’s companies?
- Has Parkop ensured he remains at arms length from those financial dealings?
- Were the works done by Tkatchencko’s companies publicly tendered?
- Did Tkatchencko even provide written quotations for the works?
- How has the NCDC Audit Committee ensured the people of Port Moresby have paid a competitive price for the works done by Tkatchencko?