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O’Neill’s illegal logging: 980 days and counting…

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

count

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

sabl cartoon

More hopeless excuses from the government on SABL

February 24, 2016 2 comments

We have been waiting two-and-a-half years for the government to cancel the unlawful SABL leases and stop the illegal logging, but they are still making excuses and doing nothing!

The Forest Minister sitting comfortably on his trip home from Paris

Minister for Illegal Logging, Douglas Tomuriesa

Latest to try and explain away the delays is Logging Minister, Douglas Tomuriesa [see story below]. He says 30 months is not a long time to take to implement the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and the government has not been dragging its heels!

The Minister has the cheek to tell landowners and NGOs to be patient, while everyday they watch more forests being felled and more illegal timber being exported.

Read more about the governments broken promises on SABL

According to the Minister “the government has done everything in its powers” – well he has got that right, everything in its powers to protect the foreign logging companies and everything in its powers to trample all over the rights of rural people, all over the laws of PNG and all over the Constitution!

The Minister promises a new report to be presented next month “will satisfy everyone”. But we have had similar promises before and is the government really going to compensate landowners for all their losses?

PNG government denies dragging chain on SABLs

Papua New Guinea’s Forestry Minister has defended the government’s handling of the controversial Special Agricultural Business Lease system, saying there will be action to conclude the matter soon.

Radio New Zealand

Papua New Guinea’s Forestry Minister denies that the government has been dragging the chain on the handling of the controversial Special Agricultural Business Lease system.

Douglas Tomuriesa said the government is about to table a report by a committee which reviewed the findings of a 2012 Commission of Inquiry into the SABL system.

That Inquiry found that the majority of the leases, which were mainly used for forestry, were largely fraudulently obtained.

Over 5 million hectares of land, or more than 10% of PNG’s total land mass, is estimated to have been affected by the illegal leases.

Mr Tomuriesa spoke to Johnny Blades.

DOUGLAS TOMURIESA: The government has done everything in its powers to monitor the SABLs and to make certain that the SABL comes to a conclusion. And I think we have come to a conclusion now. I want the NGOs, and those commentators especially, to be patient. It’s not so much a delay, it’s nothing to do with the delay tactics that the government is playing. But the government has been very careful in its dealing with the SABL. And I commend the prime minister that in his wisdom, he has taken the bull by the horns and handled the SABL very, very carefully. I think this report that is coming out in the March session (of parliament), it’s a report that will satisfy everybody, especially the landowners and the NGOs and commentators.

JOHNNY BLADES:
The prime minister did tell parliament that most of the leases were fraudulent, as fond by the Commission of Inquiry, that was two or three years ago…

DT: That’s why I’m saying – Johnny – that’s why I’m saying you have to wait until the March session and you’ll see the outcome of this SABL report. I think it is a very fair and good report.

JB: Why did there need to be a review of the inquiry?

DT: Because the inquiry must have all COI members submitting their reports. But when the report came in, only two (of the three commissioners) submitted their reports. One was signed, one was not signed, and the third was never submitted.

JB: And that meant it wasn’t complete, kind of thing?

DT: That’s right. when you look at it in its context, the report that came in was less than half submitted. And I think when the report comes out in March, it’ll be a very good report. I’ve sighted the report but I don’t want to pre-empt on the report.

JB: Does forestry benefit ordinary citizens, people in the rural communities?

DT: The forestry industry has opened up PNG to the remotest parts of the country. When you look at the forest industry… without the forest industry, the roads wouldn’t have gone to the remote areas. You come to Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea is a very rugged country.  Some areas are very, very remote. But it’s through the forestry industry that we’re able to open up the country. And by us putting roads into the jungles and remote areas, the department of works and other line agencies have followed suit to come and build up those roads, maintain those roads to proper conditions and keep them sealed. And we are able to go into areas where once there was no access. So forestry has contributed a lot to the development of this country.

Is this Justice? The case of Jimmy Maladina

February 23, 2016 2 comments

Bomana_prison

In May last year the National Court found disgraced lawyer Jimmy Maladina guilty of misappropriating K2.65 million from the National Provident Fund.

Jimmy dodged at least one bullet. The Courts were only asked to consider charges relating to the NPF Tower fraud. Had they cast their eye over a certain Waigani land sale, documented by the NPF Commission of Inquiry, Mr Maladina may have felt the temperature rise.

Although at K2.65 million, the water was still hot.

Under the Criminal Code a maximum sentence of 7 is available for conspiracy and 10 years for misappropriation. Maladina was found guilty on both fronts.

Surprisingly, the Court set him free with a two-year good behaviour bond. His eight-year custodial sentence was suspended in its entirety.

Deputy Chief Justice Salika outlined his reasons:

 ‘I take into account these following factors that will enable me to exercise the Courts discretion in the way I will. They are:

  1. Full restitution over and above what the prisoner dishonestly obtained has been made by the prisoner.
  2. A civil action was taken against him by Nasfund wherein he was declared bankrupt and his properties in Australia sold for over AUD$500,000.00 which was given back to Nasfund.
  3. Nasfund is now in a better position than it was those 17 years ago. It and the contributors are now happy that they have got back what was stolen from them by Kumagai and the prisoner.
  4. The prisoner will no longer be able to practice law ever again and I think he is aware of that fact.
  5. His co-accused’s case has been permanently stayed by the National Court. Others involved in the case have never been charged, thus issue of where is fairness is asked.
  6. I am aware that he brought all these on himself and he has no one to blame; but he was now put right in full and over what he did wrong. He will still suffer in that he will have to find other ways to survive in this world as he will no longer practice law.
  7. There has been a long undue delay to have this matter tried, thus his constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time denied. The State had the primary role to expedite his trial.

In the circumstances as pointed above I will exercise the courts discretion and suspend all the 8 years and place him on good behaviour bond for 2 years.’

This stands in marked contrast to the treatment dealt out to those found guilty of theft under the Criminal Code.

For those lacking a white collar, the punishments can be severe.

Take the hapless Mathias Watt, he broke into his brother in law’s business and stole K11,300.

The National Court declared ‘a strong deterrent sentence is necessary to punish the prisoner for his crime as a lesson to him and others with similar inclinations’. A four year custodial sentence was given.

So, Mathias steals K11,300 and receives four years hard labour. Jimmy ‘misappropriates’ K2.65 million and receives a good-behavior bond. Is this justice?

Paul Paraka seeks K24 million payments

February 23, 2016 3 comments

paul_paraka

by STEVEN ANDRE, PNG Blogs

The law firm at the centre of fraud allegations involving the Prime Minister and many other high-ranking people in PNG is ‘striking again’.

In a letter dated 26th January 2016, Paul Paraka writes to Secretary for Finance, Dr Ken Ngangen, for some outstanding payments of K24.1 million. The bills comprised of a K12.940 million principal amount as purportedly confirmed by two National Court Orders in 2007 and interest component of K11.170 million. Mr Paraka claims that the bills were cleared by the Solicitor General in 2005 and two National Court orders subsequently confirmed it. He claims that the bills were not paid in the past because there were some Supreme Court cases pending and now that the cases had been concluded in July 2014, the Department of Finance is legally obliged to make these payments, failure to which would result in contempt of court proceedings. Mr Paraka refers to a letter by the Attorney General Ano Pala dated 6th July 2014 to then Commissioner of Police Geoffrey Vaki, where Mr Pala purportedly legitimized the payment of these legal bills.

On 2nd February 2016, Dr Ken Nangen wrote to Mr Paraka, acknowledging receipt of his claim and stated that he would conduct his due diligence, consult the relevant legal authorities and revert to him.

It is understood, the good secretary for finance wrote to the Attorney General a few days after that, seeking his advise on the Paraka’s claims in light of various civil and criminal proceedings currently on foot. It is not known the action taken by the sleazy Attorney General.

If one looks at how Paul Paraka has built his now debunked criminal network, it is evidentially clear that he had not been acting alone nor has he benefited alone. Paraka had the entire system from Prime Ministers down to the tea boys working for him –orchestrating his fraudulent payments. His subsequent arrest by the Taskforce Sweep team has exposed that criminal network.

One thing about this kind of habitual fraudsters is that they do not just write a random letter to lodge a claim. They act on purpose and coordinated. So at this time when the same bills are quarantined in various criminal and civil court cases including those ones involving Paraka himself and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Paraka is striking again. Is he acting alone? You bet.

The following circumstances should shed some light:-

1.     The mastermind of the Parakagate was Mr Paraka himself but he kept a low profile when PM O’Neill was brought to the fore to answer to criminal charges. It is understood PM stopped supporting Paraka and left him in the cold since PM was slapped with the arrest warrant. Paraka is understood to be fending for himself, by liquidating his assets and at times, smuggles bettlenuts into the city. Paraka is a frustrated man, having spent money and resources to fund PNC in the 2012 elections and defended many of PNC candidates election petitions for free. For some reason, Paraka refused to expose the PM and other high profile individuals who have benefited from the fraud. That has been his last arrow in his quiver –bargaining chip.

2.     Paraka’s fresh claims were coincidently lodged at the time when his [Paraka’s] favourite judge, the honourable Sir Bernard Sakora was scheduled to sit on an appeal concerning the PM O’Neill’s arrest warrant. It is understood Sakora took possession of the Supreme Court appeal file at the time when Paraka lodged his fresh claims. It was reported in the news that Sakora heard this matter on 4/2/16 but the decision which was scheduled to be handed down the next day, seems to be unusually delayed for at least 3 weeks now.

Controversial Sakora was the judge who issued a stay order in favour of Paul Paraka on a Saturday morning in Alotau in March 2010 to thwart the publication and implementation of the Commission of Inquiry into Finance Department Report. The court order remained on foot until December 2013 when the Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia set it aside. Sakora is from nambis and Paraka from Highlands –what’s the connection?

Sakora is not new to controversy. [Part 2 of this article will cover more of that…..to be continued]

3.     In less than a week, Isaac Lupari, one of the venal individuals who is heavily featured in the Finance Commission of Inquiry and who had been a mastermind in managing PM’s Paraka related cases in court, was appointed as the Chief Secretary to Government.

Remember that back then, in 2006, it was the Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe who issued a stop payment on Paul Paraka legal bills payments and advised Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the same bills. Now we have a Chief Secretary who is closer to Paraka.

4.     Ano Pala is copied in the letter by Paul Paraka and interestingly, Dr Ngangen would seek Pala’s clarification on these bills. Pala’s reaction to this is unknown, but what is clear is that Pala is responsible for all legal representations on behalf of the PM.

The Merits of Paraka’s Claims

It appears on the face of it that Secretary Ngangen properly referred the bills to the Attorney General. However, what is worrying is the fact that the same Attorney General (Pala) may be acting in cohorts with Paraka given that Pala previously came out in the public claiming that Paraka’s bills were legitimate. The letter Paraka claims to have been written by Pala dated 6th July 2014 is also a concern as now Paraka is relying on it to lodge fresh claims when the cases concerning the merits of the same bills are believed to be litigated in court. Also note that Paraka copied his letter to Pala.

Mr Paraka claims that the Supreme Court on 4 July 2014 concluded the Supreme Court cases and without stating the details of that decision, he manipulates it with the impression that the Supreme Court decision did not have any effect his reliance on the National Court orders which he claims are still on foot. From my recollection, the Supreme Court made adverse findings against Paraka and heavily criticized him and the orders were discharged.  A legal contact supplied me with the case citation -Kalinoe v Paul Paraka Lawyers [2014] PGSC 38; SC1366 (10 July 2014) where the Court, in upholding the appeal by the State, specifically ruled “Except only for the orders granting leave, the decision and orders of the National Court in National Court proceedings, OS 829 of 2006 and OS 876 of 2006, respectively arrived at on 17th November 2006 and 02nd March 2007 are quashed and set aside.”

I recall Ano Pala misinterpreted that Supreme Court decision, in almost verbatim of Paraka’s letter, that the bills are now cleared and no criminality in it. The Supreme Court compelled him to appear and explain. Pala almost went to jail for it. Isn’t it surprising that the position Pala took then, is the same position reflected in Paraka’s letter??

Conclusion

Paraka is not acting alone. In light of what I have highlighted above, it leads me to a convincing theory, that there is some conspiracy at play. That conspiracy has got to do with Sakora dealing with the case involving PM O’Neill’s arrest warrant. And the connection to Sakora is Paraka. Paraka wants these payments to be made in return for a favourable decision –probably to stay the trial hearing which is scheduled to take place on 3rd March 2016. PM has been trying all his best with the courts and hired the best lawyers but his attempts were in vain. According to records available in the public domain, this is the first time Sakora sits on a Paraka related case since his Alotau order. My contacts within the judiciary tell me that Sakora is crazy and he can make crazy decisions.

You have Ano Pala and Isaac Lupari strategically positioned to facilitate these kinds of deals. These guys are openly defying the social norms and structures. They don’t have a single moral impulse remaining in them to impose restraint on their actions.  They are taking the cue from their master –PO. Their persistent tendencies to commit crimes are becoming like infectious disease.

Attachments: Paul Paraka Lawyers letter to Finance Secretary and the response therefrom.

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O’Neill’s illegal logging: 973 days and counting…

February 22, 2016 1 comment

count

There is still no sign of any action to undo the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging.

It is 973 days, since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.

On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

sabl cartoon

For more than two-and-a-half years O’Neill has REPEATEDLY told us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill said in Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

The ex Chief Secretary has also admitted the leases are a scam:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

But, still no action has been taken to cancel the leases or stop the logging. Indeed, Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa, has declared the logging companies are effectively above the law, He says the SABL logging is legal and he will not be taking action to stop it.

So, despite all the promises, the fact is landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles and against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 973 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Something stinks! Foreign owned companies serving poison on PNG plates

February 19, 2016 1 comment

fried-rice

Under Section 3 of the Investment Promotion Regulations 1992 certain business areas are reserved for citizens, including ‘Fast Food Take-away/Kai bars of all descriptions including mobile delivery food service’.

‘Really’, you say? Yes really, that is what the regulations actually say.

Though this hasn’t prevented Chinese nationals Xing Wu Zhou and Zhongshen Zhang from setting up Kai bars through their company J & Z Trading Limited. And wait to you hear what they have been serving up to their hosts in Madang.

On 11 March 2007 husband and wife Anita and Andrew Baikisa purchased fried rice from J & Z, before enjoying their lunch under the shade of a tree. The enjoyment was short lived.

Hidden underneath the top layer of rice was a festering pit of mould. This was a free extra they could have done without!

But here is where it gets interesting. Anita and Andrew aren’t your everyday consumer. They didn’t throw away the food, go home, get sick. They got sick alight, but not before they alerted the authorities.

The couple reported the shop to Sergeant Toby Kamseboda. After Sergeant Kamseboda tasted the food, he immediately took the couple to the local health inspector to report the incident. Later that night the couple were violently ill. When they presented at the General Hospital Doctors found the couple suffering from severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.

The Baikisa’s then took legal action.  Last week the National Court found J & Z Trading Limited guilty of negligence.

But why did it have to get this far?

With assets of over K10 million this Chinese business has done well out of the Kai bar trade, but this is business reserved for Papua New Guineas. Why isn’t the Investment Promotion Authority enforcing the regulations? Why aren’t the health authorities inspecting and fining these companies when their hygiene standards are so obviously low.

According to the former Chair of Political Sciences at UPNG, James Chin, J & Z are not alone. Many foreign nationals are entering the country illegally then flouting the law. Looking at Chinese mainland migrants, he writes once they have bribed their way in, they ‘immediately start small trading concerns, selling cheap Chinese consumer projects such as electronic goods and clothes. Others establish ‘kai bars’ (fast food outlets) and Chinese restaurants. All these businesses are illegal because such commercial activities are reserved for nationals … Other illegal operations run by mainland Chinese in PNG include brothels and money laundering’.

This is not about race or ethnicity, no one deserves to be judged on the colour of their skin. This is about foreign business people coming into PNG with a view to exploiting weaknesses in law enforcement and regulation. Whether it be forestry, mining or services, why are foreign entities allowed to monopolise our resources, avoid taxes, damage our environment, make our people sick and avoid justice.

Something stinks, and it isn’t just Anita and Andrew’s fried rice!

Bougainville’s Vice President and the half-million expense account

February 18, 2016 2 comments

On Monday PNG Exposed published 2014 payments made to Bougainville’s President and First Lady, outside of salaries. Over K800,000 had been paid out to the President and his wife, in cash advances, allowances, travel, and payments to the First Lady’s catering business.

Today we publish payments made to Bougainville’s Vice President Patrick Nisira.  Over K597,772 had been paid to the Vice President. Of particular concern are the large advances made.

Papua New Guinea’s Auditor General has repeatedly raised concerns over financial management and bookkeeping within the ABG, which means advances are often not properly accounted for or acquitted.

However, there is no publicly available evidence which would allow us to say whether these expenses incurred by Vice President Nisira, have or haven’t been properly accounted for. This is a matter their Department of Treasury and Finance would need to confirm.

Nevertheless, at a time when a cash-starved ABG struggles to meet its obligations, it is critical full and transparent account is made of public moneys. Every Kina wasted is a new school place, a teacher, a health post or a road.

Sadly this information has only been made public because of brave public servants concerned over public finance management. This information should be published freely so our representatives fully account for their expenditure.

Payee

Amount (Kina)

Description

Date

Ref. No.

Patrick Nisira

198074.95

Outstanding Allowances

23-12-14

42765

Patrick Nisira

80000

Advance.

25-04-14

5964

Patrick Nisira

60000

Advance.

25-04-14

5964

CASH Patrick Nisira

34700

Advance – Halia Sports Awards.

12/09/2014

7671

Patrick Nisira

32500

2014 1st Qtr Support Grant.

31-01-14

154588

CASH Patrick Nisira

31300

Advance for Various Youth Groups.

11/12/2014

7493

Patrick Nisira

25000

1st Qtr Development Grant.

25-02-14

154748

Patrick Nisira

25000

2nd Qtr Constituency Support Grant.

31-03-14

155014

Patrick Nisira

25000

2014 3rd Qtr Constituency Support Grant.

10/02/2014

156123

Nisira Patrick

17500

4th quarter support grant

18-12-14

41949

Patrick Nisira

12426.62

Backdated salaries

18-12-14

41930

Patrick Nisira

10064.64

Additional Travel Allowance.

28-05-14

34438

Patrick Nisira

10000

Advance.

13-06-14

155385

Patrick Nisira

8000

Advance.

06/10/2014

155340

Patrick Nisira

7372.8

Travel Allowance.

13-05-14

6187

Patrick Nisira

7362.5

Travel Allowance.

06/12/2014

155357

CASH Patrick Nisira

3000

Advance.

28-04-14

33403

Patrick Nisira

1500

Sitting Allowance.

04/11/2014

155036

Patrick Nisira

1178

Travel Allowance.

03/07/2014

154829

Patrick Nisira

1121

Travel Allowance.

07/01/2014

35944

Patrick Nisira

1000

Travel Allowance.

13-03-14

154914

Patrick Nisira

1000

Travel Allowance.

21-02-14

154718

Patrick Nisira

900

Sitting Allowance.

30-06-14

155625

Patrick Nisira

800

O/S Sitting Allowance.

21-02-14

154707

Patrick Nisira

800

Travel Allowance.

08/04/2014

155795

Patrick Nisira

600

Sitting Allowance.

06/03/2014

155290

Patrick Nisira

521

Travel Allowance.

06/10/2014

155340

Patrick Nisira

400

Travel Allowance.

27-06-14

155592

Patrick Nisira

350

Cash Reimbursement.

25-06-14

155520

Patrick Nisira

300

Sitting Allowance.

05/09/2014

155123

 

Total

K597,772