Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > TIPNG Chairman attacks PNGexposed

TIPNG Chairman attacks PNGexposed

November 1, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Recently PNGexposed has posted a series of articles that scrutinize the past of Rex Paki. Paki currently sits on the Board of the PNG Sustainable Development Programmed and the Bank of PNG, in addition to being the Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority.

These articles pointed out that Paki was slammed in two Commission of Inquiry reports, two Public Accounts Committee reports and an Auditor General report.

In response to these articles, the Chairman of Transparency International PNG, Lawrence Stephens, who is also a Program Manager at PNGSDP, defended Paki, claiming these reports amounted to mere “unproven accusations”.

PNGexposed took issue with this slight against PNG’s public accounting agencies and judicial organs, and our view was made known yesterday – TI dismisses Commission of Inquiry findings.

In response, Mr Stephens continued his defense of Rex Paki: “So where do we put a headline which points out that PNG Exposed is involved in astonishing displays of arrogant ignorance with its nameless correspondents insulting all Papua New Guineans through blatant disregard for the right of individuals named by commissions of inquiry to have their days in court”.

As TIPNG’s Chairman, surely Mr Stephens must recognize that dozens of carefully researched, well documented reports, where individuals were given a fair hearing, have been tabled in PNG, by judicial inquiries and other public accounting bodies, without any attempt to prosecute the named individuals. Surely, it is not TIPNG’s position that the failure to prosecute is tantamount to exoneration. It is not.

The RPNGC and Task-Force Sweep only have the resources to prosecute a small proportion of offenders. Moreover, often they themselves are subject to political pressure and internal corruption, which makes mounting prosecutions difficult. And when cases do make it to court, they have a notable tendency to be dismissed without reason. As the head of Taskforce Sweep, Sam Koim, has observed:  “Our files have been properly scrutinised before they were served, only to be struck out by the District Courts left-right-centre…The magistrates rarely publish their reasons for their decisions and so in most cases, there is room to conclude that justice was done without reason”.

There are many examples to support Koim’s allegation.

But lets look at some occasions, when Mr Rex Paki, was given his day in court – admittedly, these are not criminal charges, but nonetheless they involve serious accusations of impropriety and incompetence, which were scrutinised by senior PNG judges.

Example 1: Poya v Paki [2008] PGNC

A Director/Shareholder in the company Voco Point Trading Ltd, asked the court to remove Rex Paki as liquidator. The National Court found as follows:

“Rex Paki was appointed and consented to be a liquidator on 5th March 2004. Since his appointment, the liquidator has so far provided 4 reports to the creditors; 2 in March and May of 2005 and the other 2 in June and October 2008 following a direction by the Court.  The reports are unsatisfactory, for instance, the preferential debt due to the Internal Revenue Commission, which would rank before all the unsecured creditors, is not known. It is also not known why 6 monthly reports as envisaged by section 305 (2) of the Companies Act were not prepared and sent to creditors or shareholders of the company. Second, there is evidence of conversion and the explanation by Rex Paki is unsatisfactory. Two motor vehicles registration numbers LAD 538 and HAH 381 have been transferred to and registered in the name of Rex Paki without the authority or knowledge of Nathaniel Poya. Third, the evidence discloses that the liquidator has not reported the fire on the Voco Point property to the Police or the Insurance Assessors. Fourth, there is no evidence before the Court that every known creditor was notified of the meeting or a public notice to all creditors was given according to section 293 (2) & (3) of the Companies Act. There is a copy of a notice of meeting dated 13th June 2008 before the Court, but how the creditors were notified is not known to me. The evidence is that only 25 out of 89 creditors attended the meeting. The purpose of the meeting, which was to determine whether a new liquidator should be appointed, was not stated in the notice. Finally, a liquidator is required to have regard to views of the shareholders by whom a special resolution was passed for purposes of voluntary liquidation (see section 308 of the Companies Act). It was resolved at the shareholders meeting on 5th March 2004 that the liquidator is to give a report to the shareholders on any sale of assets. There is no evidence that the liquidator has given the shareholders interim reports of the sale of assets. I am satisfied and agree with Nathaniel Poya that Rex Paki be terminated as the liquidator forthwith

Example 2: Paki v Motor Vehicle Insurance Ltd [2010] PGSC

Here the Supreme Court examined attempts by Rex Paki to avoid the process of discovery, after it was allaged he had overcharged a client. The court concludes:

It is clear to us that the appellant [Paki] was attempting to avoid giving discovery; the refusal was repeated, chronic and designed to conceal the true state of affairs. He was evasive and dishonest. He gave different reasons for not producing the invoices. He said copies of the invoices were available for inspection at Namaliu & David Lawyers, that the originals were in archives at Korobosea, that the copies on his computer have been lost because the computer crashed, that copies have been misplaced and he needed time to locate them, that copies were available at MVIL or at the offices of Mr. Kerenga Kua, a lawyer. He did not give discovery despite agreeing to Consent Orders of the National Court requiring him to produce the invoices for the entire period of the liquidation. Two (2) years after he verified a list of documents, the appellant was still looking for copies of the invoices. In fact, he never gave discovery. He was required by law to retain the accounts and records of the liquidation for seven (7) years (section 306 (1)(b) of the Companies Act). We agree with Mr. Brookes that the actions of the appellant have caused the respondent an enormous amount of wasted time, effort and money. We are of the view that the conduct of the appellant was improper, unreasonable and blameworthy.

So Mr Stephens, we are not talking about one Commission of Inquiry report, or one unfavorable court decisions. We are talking about two Commission of Inquiry reports, two Public Accounts Committee inquiries, an Auditor General report, a Supreme Court decision and a National Court decision. That is, seven separate occasions when Rex Paki was alleged to have engaged in misconduct. On all occasions there was convincing evidence to draw this conclusion, they were not mere unfounded accusations.

Surely this is enough proof to raises concerns when Rex Paki is appointed to the Board of a billion kina not-for-profit organization charged with the important duty of promoting the sustainable development and welfare of people in PNG?

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  1. November 2, 2012 at 12:36 am

    In a chronically corrupt country like PNG, a single allegation against a prominent figure should shake hell from its dark depths. Two should surely raise it! How on earth could Mr Stephens, even if these allegations have remianed what they are until now, not give a damn and blatantly attempt to neutralise (and may have succedded) the gravity of these allegations? I am now forced to question TIPNG’s integrity under Mr Stephens guidance.

    • Lawrence Stephens
      November 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Look again. There is no attempt to neutralise anything. I may be wrong and if so will admit it. But I do believe that there are steps which need to be taken before we run off and punish those named as offenders against society. As for TIPNG under my guidance please be assured that any lack of integrity (I dispute this), capacity or intelligence I display is more than compensated for by an impressive group of dedicated Papua New Guineans who together guide the efforts of the organisation.

      • November 3, 2012 at 3:06 am

        Mr Stephens, I think you’re wrong; firstly to not reckon that the allegations by COIs may mean something. And secondly, to continue to remain adamant that you’re not wrong! Let us face it…to work alongside people with seriously dark clouds hanging over their heads and pretend that nothing is at stake is to collaborate with attempts to hamper attempts to minimise and eliminate corruption totally in this chronically corrupt country.

  2. Tony Flynn
    November 2, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I ran twice in the 2002 and 2007 elections and twice I promised myself that I would not join Transparency International. This was from a feeling that some members were hypocrites. I feel justified.
    Tony Flynn

    • Lawrence Stephens
      November 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      You felt that some members were hypocrites and didn’t join. This is a good and valid response. Yours is a very real issue. I recall those upright ones who questioned the company being kept by Jesus. He, they claimed, was associating with Tax collectors and sinners and these were apparently not the right people to associate with. And despite this he made some pretty fundamental changes to how the world works.

      We are all flawed. Does this mean we should do nothing? Do you not become a member of a conservation group becuase some of its members are not as dedicatd as you feel they should be? Do you not join a political party becuase you suspect some members as not being as honest as you feel they should be? Very valid questions. We all need to ask them. And in my experience the majority of the people I encounter in TI PNG do not show any indication of being hypocrites. We all need support and encouragement and we most certainly need new blood to improve our efforts. But the people I see working with us there are, in my opinion, not hypocrites.

      Presumably you wanted to enter Parliament to bring about change, even there among the more publicly flawed people so strongly criticised as not being honest. We have an excellent example from the New Testament which encourages us to work in a challenging world with flawed people and bring about change.

      I hope the personal drive which led you to be a candidate for parliament stays with you as you work to bring about changes and improvements in the lives of us all.

  3. Lawrence Stephens
    November 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for the research. Keep it up. It is helpful and needs to be placed on the public record over and over again so that we do not forget.

    There is much more needed and many individuals needing attention. And most improtantly there is the step we have been calling for for many years now. Make sure the reports of CoI are acted upon by those who have the power and responsibility to do so.

    As I see it Step 1 is the CoI. Step 2. Presentation of the findings in Parliament 3, Formally passing the findings and recommendations to the various bodies whose job it is to investigate and take action. 4. Making sure we actually hear back from those agencies that action is being or has been taken.

    I know at least one person still suffering from a negative finding of a CoI still waiting for the chance to clear his name, years after the CoI. Yet government after government has failed to make sure the findings are acted upon and individuals named continue to be vilified (rightly or wrongly).

    In my view we have witnessed a failure by governments and government agencies to take the steps which will make it possible to respond legally and appropriately to the findings of the CoI’s

  1. October 4, 2013 at 10:58 am
  2. October 5, 2013 at 6:04 am

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