PNG NGO holds birthday bash over massive fraud case
Dateline Pacific – Radio New Zealand
A Papua New Guinea anti-corruption NGO has hosted a so-called “Birthday Bash” to mark the anniversary of non-action over a report into a series of major fraud cases.
It’s five years today since the tabling in parliament of a Commission of Inquiry Report into of illegal transactions involving PNG’s Finance Department which date back about a decade.
287 million US dollars of public money was misappropriated by a network of politicians, law firms and senior bureaucrats.
Johnny Blades has more:
A long-running and massive fraud seems hardly a cause for celebration but PNG’s anti-corruption NGO Act Now is in a creative mood about raising awareness. Act Now’s Effrey Dademo says no one implicated in the Finance Department Commission of Inquiry report has been prosecuted since 2010.
EFFREY DADEMO: And since then there has really nothing been done on its recommendations. Successive governments have not moved on implementing the recommendations which basically are to prosecute those people implicated and also to make ways into recovering the amount of money that has been stolen by each of those individuals.
The director of the PNG police Fraud and Anti-Corruption unit confirms they are not currently probing cases stemming from the Finance Department inquiry report. Mathew Damaru says this is partly because they are focussed on so many other cases, including ones related to around a dozen MPs. He admits that action on the report stalled after some of those implicated forced a court stay order on proceedings.
MATTHEW DAMARU: We are not working on it because there was a court order stopping everybody from dealing with the report. It goes back some years back so I can’t even remember what it was but at the moment nobody has been charged yet.
Transparency International PNG’s Lawrence Stephens says the inquiry into the Finance Department is yet another example of a Commission of Inquiry set up by the country’s leaders which simply ends up gathering dust.
LAWRENCE STEPHENS: We have a long list of inquiries that don’t appear to have come up with satisfactory outcomes as far as the people are concerned. It’s almost as if at times the inquiry is a way of calming us down, everybody has their opportunity to present information and then the information is not acted upon.
Effrey Dademo says the report is still available to be actioned.
EFFREY DADEMO: Basically no one wants to move on it for various reasons but otherwise it’s been an inquiry, a public inquiry, using taxpayers money to stage it and complete it so it’s just like any inquiry tabled in parliament. It should be actioned for the good of the nation.
Effrey Dademo says the government must start implementing the report’s well-detailed recommendations. She says the fraud involved a huge amount of public funds that could have better been used to pay 5,000 nurses salaries for 10 years or to build 370 new classrooms or provide 6,200 new rural aid posts. But instead the money disappeared into the hands of a few corrupt lawyers, politicians and public servants.