Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > Property of PNG fugitive seized

Property of PNG fugitive seized

By Sarah Elks and Rowan Callick in The Australian

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have seized the north Queensland properties of one of Papua New Guinea’s most wanted men, Eremas Wartoto, who had gone to ground in Australia after fleeing here on a 457 visa.

Fugitive businessman Mr Wartoto was committed to trial in PNG in October for allegedly misappropriating $5 million in government funds.

The AFP said he flew from Cairns to Port Moresby last Thursday and that local police there had been unable to find him. But last night, PNG police chief superintendent Peter Guiness said “my information is that he is still in Australia”.

Mr Wartoto was living in Cairns where he ran a rental car business since being granted the visa in 2011.

Brisbane District Court judge Douglas McGill yesterday ordered five properties, four bank accounts and dozens of cars owned by Mr Wartoto be seized, granting an application by the AFP. AFP lawyer Ben Moses told the court Mr Wartoto was wanted for fraud offences in PNG and it was alleged some of the offending conduct occurred in Queensland.

Mr Wartoto was not represented yesterday, but last week he defended himself against the charges in a sworn affidavit registered in Port Moresby.

He claimed “the value of the properties frozen by the restraining orders are more than $5.5m, that is, in excess of the amount I had allegedly misappropriated”.

His PNG solicitor, Justin Haiara of Steeles Lawyers, said “the process has been abused by police in PNG, and the AFP should not buy into such abusive behaviour”. He said Mr Wartoto had not been tried and some of the funds allegedly stolen were “pursuant to a valid contract (with the PNG state) which has never been terminated”.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman yesterday confirmed Mr Wartoto was granted a 457 visa in 2011. She said he met all of the conditions and was sponsored by an employer.

Additional Reporting: Rosanne Barrett

Advertisements
  1. Neil Nicholls
    May 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    “My information is that he is still in Australia”!

    >________________________________ > From: PNGexposed Blog >To: nagnich@yahoo.com >Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 7:33 AM >Subject: [New post] Property of PNG fugitive seized > > > > WordPress.com >pngexposed posted: “Sarah Elks and Rowan Callick | The Australian AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have seized the north Queensland properties of one of Papua New Guinea’s most wanted men, Eremas Wartoto, who had gone to ground in Australia after fleeing here on a 457 visa. ” >

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: