Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > Carr cancels 457 visa of PNG’s ‘most wanted’ man

Carr cancels 457 visa of PNG’s ‘most wanted’ man

By Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker in The Age

Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr has used his special powers to cancel the 457 visa issued by the Gillard government to an alleged crime boss wanted in Papua New Guinea over the theft of $30 million.

Senator Carr’s decision to revoke the visa of Eremas Wartoto comes a week after Fairfax revealed that the powerful PNG businessman – accused of being one of PNG’s most corrupt figures by anti-graft authorities – was using his 457 visa to avoid arrest and prosecution. Sources in PNG confirmed that Mr Wartoto and his immediate family members in Queensland were contacted by immigration authorities late this week and told that the federal government was cancelling their visas.

Mr Wartoto’s visa has been cancelled by Senator Carr using laws that allow the Foreign Minister to revoke a 457 on the basis that the holder poses ”a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community”.

But some senior government sources in PNG are furious that the Gillard government did not act sooner to expel Mr Wartoto, who has been living in Australia since he was charged in absentia in August 2011 with serious corruption offences.

The visa allowed Mr Wartoto to live in Cairns and fly in and out of Australia to several Asian countries despite being the most wanted man in PNG.

Mr Wartoto fled Australia to PNG last week after Fairfax tried to photograph him in Queensland. He remained on the run in PNG until Friday, when anti-corruption investigators tracked him to the port town of Kimbe and arrested him.

Mr Wartoto obtained a 457 visa in July 2011 – the foreign skilled worker visa at the centre of a Gillard government crackdown – after learning PNG authorities planned to charge him in August 2011.

Since then he has claimed to be too ill to face trial in Port Moresby but travel records reveal he has travelled to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands during the past two years and has been able to return to live in Australia each time thanks to his 457 visa.

A spokesman for Senator Carr said: ”Given the legal issues … it was not possible to take action until now.”

PNG government sources have suggested Mr Wartoto’s visa was not cancelled earlier because of the Gillard government’s desire not to upset PNG government members who support the Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre.

Mr Wartoto is linked to powerful PNG politicians, including Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato.

Mr Wartoto obtained his 457 visa after a Cairns car hire company he owns sponsored him on the basis there was a shortage of ”general corporate managers” in the area.

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  1. pkay
    May 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    WE cannot say, with any sigh of relief, “at long last” because the invoking of 457 by Minister Carr to render Wartovo a fugitive playing hide and seek between Australia and PNG doesn’t at all mean there aren’t other similar scoundrels enjoying the fruits of their corrupt lifestyle still in Australia; or that others will not emerge and hide under the cover of 457 in the future.

    WE cannot also say, with any sense of satisfaction, “it’s about time” because Wartoto and his associates had the luxury of time to further their interests afield such as in the Asian and Pacific countries mentioned.

    Crime boss?? Is this reference about how he must have followers and associates in a crime syndicate of which he is the nominal or real main man? Or is it a reference to how much he has obtained and amassed from the national coffers and how he has evaded and fooled authorities with his errands between PNG and Australia. Wartoto must have associates and we have read in the past that the Member for Pomio as Minister for National Planning was a close and benficial associate from projects for which tenders were corruptly awarded or approved. Kerevat National High School comes to mind. And the advance of some K30 million (?) to start up the Wartoto airline (Mangki Ples???) is another in which Member for Pomio had both his hands in.

    Now, in more recent times, the present Minister for Foreign Affair’s has been mentioned in the print media, by name. Why should, or how would, any decision on Wartoto’s 457 status be linked to the Manus detention centre? Many PNGn’s cannot buy the argument that the inevitable was delayed “because of the Gillard government’s desire not to upset PNG government members who support the Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre.” The fact is Wartoto is not from Manus and does not own any of the land where the detention centre is on Manus. THE only reason for the delay or reprieve for Wartoto by Australia may be because of his links to and with Minister Pato. Wartoto was thrown in as a red herring by linking him to the negotiations on the Manus site.

    It’d be interesting to find out if during his business adventure to fill the yawning gap in Australia for corporate managers whether Mr Wartoto has not short-changed customers/clients or left bad debts with other businesses in Cairns.

    If Mr Wartoto is or was ”a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community” what are we supposed to make of him in PNG? May be, a menace like a bull let loose by politicians in a candy shop that has no regard to anybody or anything, causing untold damage to the reputation of the country, his family and the community he comes from in ENB!

    Just watch Rimbink Pato’s next act.

  2. Kur Kient
    May 20, 2013 at 11:32 am

    What even making it more interesting is that the Australian government can harbor white-collar criminals like Wartoto from PNG in Australia under a 457 Australian visa but not criminals like Kapris, who will have a hard time getting a 457 Australian visa. This raises a lot of questions about Australia’s Aid to PNG. The Australian government is telling the people of PNG that they gave AusAID only to get more back by letting white collar criminals investing in their country.

  1. May 22, 2013 at 5:03 am
  2. May 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm

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