Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > Finance Inquiry findings back before the courts

Finance Inquiry findings back before the courts

Lawyer Paul Paraka and ex Solicitor General Zacchary Gelu were back in court Friday trying to ensure the Finance Department Commission of Inquiry report, which heavily implicates both men in massive corruption and fraud, remains under wraps.

The findings of the Commission of Inquiry, which were handed to the Prime Minister in December 2009, have not been officially published and the people, including Paraka and Gelu, implicated in the theft of K780 million, have not been arrested or charged because the two men have a court injunction preventing publication or any criminal action against them. The injunction was granted by Justice Sakora in March 2010.

The State of Papua New Guinea is now applying to have the court injunction lifted after a successful campaign against the Prime Minister’s department by civil society groups determined to ensure the Finance Inquiry findings did not get buried.

The application to remove the injunction was originally heard by Justice Mark Sevua in June 2010, but he failed to give his verdict before his contract of employment was not renewed and he was removed from the bench.

The matter was then listed before Judge Thompson, but Paraka and Zelu have decided to challenge her impartiality and have applied to have her disqualified from hearing the case. Their argument is based on the fact that Thompson had a minor role in the processing of complaints against Paraka arising from his acting for the Eastern Highlands Provincial Government and in relation to POSF matters.

Legal commentators say that the latest moves from Paraka and Gelu are pretty much baseless as Thompson had little if anything to do with either of the complaints and did not participate in any decisions involving Paraka, but are part of the strategy by the two men to raise every possible objection so that the proceedings are delayed for as long as possible and, hopefully to stop the Commission findings ever been acted upon.

Judge Thompson has reserved her decision on whether she will disqualify herself from hearing the application to have the injunction lifted so we are really no further forward in seeing justice being done and Paraka and Gelu facing the full force of the law.

You can read more about the role of Paul Paraka and Zacchary Gelu in the theft of K780 million kina here:

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