Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > Police seize assets of PNG’s most wanted man Eremas Wartoto

Police seize assets of PNG’s most wanted man Eremas Wartoto

By Sarah Elks in The Australian

AUSTRALIAN authorities have seized north Queensland properties owned by one of Papua New Guinea’s most wanted men.

Queensland District Court judge Douglas McGill SC today granted an application by the Australian Federal Police for custody and control orders over five properties, four bank accounts and dozens of cars controlled by businessman Eremas Wartoto.

Mr Wartoto ran an airline in PNG but has been living in Cairns since 2011 when he was accused of misappropriating more than $30m from the PNG government.

It has been reported Mr Wartoto had been living in Australia on a 457 visa.

Today, the court heard Mr Wartoto flew back to PNG from Cairns last week, but has so far managed to evade capture by local police.

Judge McGill agreed to issue the new orders to reinforce property restraining orders filed last month. He said there was a risk that Mr Eremas may try to sell the properties, but this would keep them “out of (his) hands”.

The court heard Mr Eremas owned several rental properties in Cairns and controlled a car rental business in the far north Queensland city.

The AFP alleges Mr Eremas faxed some documents from Queensland to PNG to help him commit the alleged fraud against the PNG government, which is why Australian authorities can restrain some of his assets.

Mr Eremas was not represented in court but lawyer Ben Moses, for the AFP, said his solicitors had been informed of the situation.

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  1. Rata Palisah
    May 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Not a bad start in Australia but its good to hear something is being done and it should continue to uncover how Mr. Wartoto acquired all this wealth in a short while. Australia need to recover all the money embezzled into Australia by Mr. Wartoto and it should all be repatriated back to the people of PNG. God help the poor people of this wonderful country PNG.

  2. Pkay
    May 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Catching one evasive, elusive and slippery culprit does not make every PNGn that has a business or a private residence in Australian a corrupt mongrel in the mould of Wartoto. PNGExposed has been to quick to publish observations and criticisms of individuals that have rushed to conclusions that all PNG politicians and bureaucrats that have invested in business or personal assets are corrupt.

    Obviously, there has been tremendous embezzlement of public funds by people in power and the flight of these funds to places like the Caymans, Singapore and to Australia in particular has been widely pubglicised and known.

    The way to proceed with uncovering these wrongs, from misdeamenours to grand corruption, is not to make a lot of noise (like Sam Koim) but first do the job carefully, thoughtfully, thorouhgly and properly with a certain finality of the process in mind at the end.

    The Australian authorities are proceeding in this manner, throwing the book at Wartovo from the start, because if you are going to get him you have to be very certain what crime or offences he has committed before you can corner him and get him.

    A lot chatter, publicity and grandstanding at crime and corruption conventions and seminars will not solve much. This is the reason why the Member for Pomio, a close associate and confidante of Wartoto, could not be arraigned. All the publicity and allegations and opinions of those pursuing him almost meant that he was being tried by the media.

    If ever ECP really eventuates this time, one of the major priorities should be to resurrect the Bomana Police College and turn it into a modern Police Academy to turn out top police investigators, prosecutors, intelligence super sleuths, and provide the best forensics training there is to offer, etcetera. Our best of the best police when given the right training, skills and tools shouldn’t be talking about “scoops” but “hard, professional, and intelligent work” netting good results.

    Wartoto is small fry, a bag-man, a fall-guy who doesn’t really have a reputation and integrity to protect. When the laws have caught up with him, he may go back to being a pauper. BUT we all know, do we not?? Whilst he might fall with a thump, in this country those that made him out to be who he is will stand by him. The Member for Pomio and the current Minister for Foreign Affairs have been mentioned by name in the annals of the Eremas Wartoto’s escapades between Cairns and Port Moresby and around the Pacific Islands triangle.

    Wartoto’s days in one chapter of his life and the life of his associates may soon be over. BUT who says this’ll be the end. The fact is that corruption in high places has seaped and trickled through the system that it’s almost become a way of life. Those benefitting from it thinks it pays to be corrupt. Even a right. Perhaps even legitimate if you happen to wield power amongst a monopolistic few that have often gone by the description “kitchen cabinet”. The names, faces and benefactors might change. But the incidences, practices and the wanton blatancy with which it continues remains the same.

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