Implicated by lawyers Maladina and Sheppard are Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch, lawyer Jimmy Maladina, Australian lawyer and CQ Mal Varitimos, and PNG Chairman of the PNG Gaming Board, Controlled By Peter O’Neill
Charles Kua | PNG Blogs
The door blows off “business as usual” corruption amongst PNG’s big shots
Who would have thought that Greg Sheppard and Harvey Maladina would be the ones who would expose corruption not only to PNG but the world, instead of hiding it. Yet, the egos of both finally caused them to slip their guard (if Harvey ever had one) a little. Only a little because it is clear from the conversations with both that they see nothing wrong with the extent of corruption in PNG, think nothing is wrong about the loopholes being used to get away with bribery or anything else.
Don’t for a moment say that they are behaving like any lawyer. Some lawyers (not that many, unfortunately, especialy in PNG) do have principles. They reject some clients and they won’t give advice on some things.
The lawyers in the interview were Greg Sheppard, an expat who has worked in PNG in law for about 25 years, and Harvey Maladina, brother of infamous Jimmy Maladina of the 1999 NPF corruption scandal, that also prominently involved Peter O’Neill and Herman Leahy. All 3 were prosecuted but none were ever convicted. Harvey and Jimmy were previously with and started up Maladina Lawyers.
Maladina Lawyers in 2004 merged with a PNG legal firm called Young and Williams Lawyers. Young & Williams Lawyers has a long history in Papua New Guinea. The firm’s roots can be traced back to the 1960s at the old United Church Building, Ela Beach. Partners have come and gone but according to the web site of the firm (www.ynw.com.pg), the reputation of Young & Williams Lawyers will live on. In late 2004, another chapter was added to the life of Young & Williams Lawyers when the practices of Maladinas Lawyers and White Young & Williams Lawyers merged and consolidated their various practices under the Young & Williams Lawyers banner. Harvey Maladina and Greg Sheppard are the partners. Also working at the firm are lawyers: Kylie Najike, Priscilla Rumints, Molly Sumbuk, Venessa Vee, Wilson Mininga, and Alida Gubag.
Lame defences from Maladina and Sheppard once they were told they had been the subject of investigation
When Lawyers Sheppard and Maladina were informed by SBS Dateline that a story was being run on them, they apparently did not realise that every word they said had been videotaped. Their replies are the usual lawyer defensive language that uses up a lot of words that says nothing. Harvey Maladina especially makes statements in his reply to SBS Dateline that catch him in the trap and makes things even more convincing that these 2 lawyers were completely fooled into speaking truthfully. Now it is very difficult for them find a way to cover up their own words and deny saying what was captured on the video.
Harvey Maladina (brother of the infamous corrupt Jimmy of NPF thievery fame) and Greg Sheppard, the 2 partners in giving out “how to be corrupt” advice, obviously have no conscience. As Greg Sheppard alludes to himself, he’s in PNG for the money and nothing more. One wonders if there is something clinically wrong with the Maladina family, as stories have gone around for years that suggests that it is not Jimmy and Harvey alone who have less than acceptable ethics.
Some parts of the secretly taped conversation that did not air on the SBS programme
The videotape sounds just like a conversation between buddies. Like corruption is a normal acceptable part of life. Both make sure they give the hidden corruption fighter all the tips on how to be corrupt without getting caught.
Attached to this article is the full transcript, far more than you saw and heard on the video that appeared on Australian television. Here are some of the more memorable quotes in this transcript that you didn’t see on television:
Harvey Maladina about Jimmy Maladina and Peter O’Neill: You know there was an inquiry at the … there was two guys that were implicated, that’s the prime minister and my brother. And now they’re in power. Well he’s the chief government advisor on anything. Yes both survived the inquiry. One is the prime minister and one is the government advisor. They borrowed some money from a local bank, it’s called Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation. And now it’s BSP Bank South Pacific. And at that time the chairman of the bank was the current prime minister. So the inquiry chased the funds that was the loan that was given to this Japanese company and it went right around the circle. And went back again to the guy lending the money. Back to the prime minister yeah. The problem was there was a missing link in this chain and that was my brother. He had a law firm here. So he took off to Australia and they didn’t extradite him so that saved the prime minister. And um, he managed to stay in Australia until the inquiry was over. He’s back in the country now. [so the prime minister is] very loyal to him.
Harvey Maladina about Peter O’Neill: He goes in a lot of politics and stuff like that, and he is good friends with former prime ministers and that’s how he built himself proper. So he got himself appointed to the bank as the chairman and that’s when they reached proof of the money and that is why this Japanese company paid it back to them. [Paid it back into their own bank accounts’ Yeah well exactly so they chased the money right back to the prime minister.
Harvey Maladina about Jimmy Maladina and Australian lawyer Mal Varitimos: Anyway the missing link was my brother, he took off to Brisbane in Australia. And they didn’t extradite him and the inquiry wound down and there was a report presented but… And um he um he came back again. Um there’s a case against him in the National Court but that’s been going for donkey’s years now. Because he’s able to buy some smart lawyers from Australia to come up. We’ve got some smarter ones than Mr Molloy. Mr Molloy is good but we normally engage a guy called Varitimos, Mal Varitimos. He’s based in Brisbane. He’s a good lawyer, yes. He does a lot of local cases up here. We work with Varitimos and he is a QC and he is very good. When we engage him, if you wanted him to represent you, you engage us, we engage him, and we do our bills, we do one bill to you, you pay us and we send him money to Australia, to his Australian account. Umm like the financial institutions here, they give us a ceiling; I think it’s around 250,000. We’re allowed to deal with in a month. And after that they tell us for the following month. [total per year is K6 million]. Yeah um he’s billed us more previously we are able to pay him. See most of the guys, a lot of the guys here that come under scrutiny, they ship a large amount of money on a one-off basis to an account in Australia, that comes under scrutiny. They are under investigation by the police here and red flag already with the Australian Federal Police to keep an eye out on these particular transactions. [so this way of getting a larger bill from Australia and paying it and then there’s a balance which we can be released, do you think that gets through that kind of scrutiny?] Yes normally if it’s through the law firms it’s um, they don’t usually question it, because it’s… especially if it’s the firm that I’m working with, it’s a prestigious firm.
Harvey Maladina about using overseas accountants to transfer money corruptly by Chairman of Gaming Board: I’ve got a partner here and my partner is a Western Australian guy, we’ve been in business together for twenty years or something. Form Perth yes. I know that he has a Singaporean accountant and funds are transfer there and from there to Australia. There’s a lot of my….guys I know in politics…. and they go to offshore to collect. Like one of my good mates he’s now in charge of the gaming board. And he went offshore and I… he flew over to Singapore recently and I asked him “what do you do over there?” and he said “Oh I want to collect some payments”. There were some funds remitted to hig account over there, to an account. And so he went to collect it so he came back quite a happy man so ummm.”
Greg Sheppard about shifting money: You know. I had some clients recently who made a deposit to a Hong Kong company. The Hong Kong company then sent a large percentage of that money to Singapore. And um, the Hong Kong side said it was for maintaining computer equipment. The Singapore side siad it was a commission. The Singapore authorities saw the inconsistency and arrested everybody. [you need] a consistent chain and something that is commercial. The proper way of looking at it is that you can’t do these things, it’s illegal. But there are other commercial arrangements which aren’t illegal that you may be permitted to enter into providing you get a clearance from your lawyer. Becaues you know if the CIB come knocking on your door, you want to be able to say “oh this transactions was for this reason, bang bang bang, here is the clearance from my lawyer”.
Greg Sheppard on demanding bribes: Anybody who says they want seven figures, they are inviting prosecution. Look if you were to pay seven figures to anybody, the world would fall in on top of you. Just don’t even contemplate that sort of nonsense. Um, small dribs and drabs are the only way to go. Why would any company produce seven figures for anybody? I mean what is the commercial reason behind it? Well you need ot have one. You know the days of banging a million bucks into this secret-numbered account in Singapore is over.
Anti-corruption fighter in disguise says “May I sort of take a risk and trust you with a name? Obviously I’d ask that….
Sheppard: What you mean the name of the minister? Is it Pruaitch?
Anti-corruption fighter in disguise: Funnily enough it is. how did you.
Sheppard: He’s, he’s an old client. Yeah the other problem with Patrick is he’s already being scrutinised by the Ombudsman. Because he did some crazy thing like he let some Malaysian timber guy buy him a house. So there was a house in his name and it was paid for by the Malaysian timber guy who wound up with a nice… They purchased the house here in Port Moresby in Patrick’s name paid for by a bank check from the Malaysian, you know. This was six to eight years ago. He will have a plan. But if it’s just popping it into my bank account, don’t even bloody think about it.
PNG’s Corruption Is Getting Progressively Worse Under Peter O’Neill
If the information about Peter O’Neill were the first serious allegations we’ve ever heard about the man, we could be doubtful. However, the pattern over the past 15 years has been consistent. Peter O’Neill is highly corrupt, he is surrounded by and supports highly corrupt people like him, and the country as a whole is drifting into a situation where corruption is as normal and expected and accepted as Harvey Maladina and Greg Sheppard portray in their conversations with the hidden camera. This explosive programme was done by Australians, not Papua New Guineans. We as a people cannot continue to sit back and wait for God or the Australians to save us from the problems we create for ourselves by not being attentive and controlling of our politicians.
It is time for you to start standing up more against corruption and the injustice that is drowning our country. Don’t read this as another article, shake your head, and continue as before, doing nothing about it. As long as you do nothing, and everyone else does nothing, that will leave only the corrupt people in PNG working hard and doing something. They will remain in control like a mafia and the fault will rest with you and me.