Has PM O’Neill appointed a fraudster to investigate the alleged Duma Fraud?
This week we were reminded why PNG needs an impartial, independent and well-resourced corruption fighting force – as Minister William Duma attempted to deflect attention from evidence pointing to his involvement in two major land grabs, worth tens, if not, hundreds of millions.
Prime Minister O’Neill assures us, the matter will be thoroughly investigated by Police Commissioner, Gary Baki – a close ally of the PM – and wait for it, his Chief Secretary Issac Lupari.
We can reveal that the Chief Secretary Issac Lupari was condemned by the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance for being the mastermind of a multimillion dollar fraud.
The Commission of Inquiry observed:
‘Mr. Issaac Lupari sued the State for breach of four separate contracts that were entered into as Secretary for the Departments of Finance, Defence, DPM and Transport in that order. He claimed that he had been unlawfully terminated from all those positions after serving short stints in each and claimed the balance of all pay and entitlements for the unexpired period of all four contracts’.
The Commission observes:
‘It will be clear from the evidence gathered so far that Mr. Lupari never suffered any loss of pay and entitlements, and was adequately remunerated by the State for the whole time that he claimed for and beyond’.
In summary the Commission of Inquiry found:
- In 1997 Lupari was appointed Finance Secretary by Prime Minister Bill Skate, the mentor to our current PM, Mr O’Neill.
- On 15 January 1998 he was sacked by the Skate government, but as fortune has it, the very same day he got the job of Defense Secretary.
- On 17 March 2000 he was made Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management by the Morauta government, with a contracted end date of 29th of June 2000.
- On the day his contract ended, Lupari was made Transport Secretary.
- Nevertheless, Lupari claimed he was unlawfully dismissed as Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management.
- His legal team was … Paul Paraka lawyers.
- The Attorney General and Solicitor General settled the claim for a cool K1 million, which was paid by the Department of Finance on the 17 September 2004 by cheque No. 790468.
- A further K2.7 million in settlements were agreed with Lupari, after he claimed he was also dismissed as Transport, Finance and Defense Secretary– the Commission was unable to find evidence of whether this money was paid.
The Commission concluded:
‘Mr. Isaac Lupari knew full well that his claims amounted to triple and quadruple dipping. Yet he went ahead and instructed his lawyers to file claims against the State in the National Court’.
‘Mr. Lupari was not entitled to the K3,703,461.31, either legally or morally. Paul Paraka lawyers engaged in deceptive conduct when filing Writs in the order they did’.
‘Paul Paraka Lawyers did not submit quantum submissions. Purported quantum submissions later produced to the Commission were fabricated after the Col summoned same from Mr. Guguna Garo of Paul Paraka Lawyers’.
‘Paul Paraka lawyers were paid K200,000.00 for each matter totaling K800,000 for doing a minimal amount of work. That work consisted only of drafting the four Writs of Summons. There were no appearances in Court and no protracted negotiations before agreement was reached to settle the four matters out of Court’.
Read the Commission report on Issac Lupari (220KB)
So this is the honourable fellow who will now investigate the Duma allegations. The people of PNG will be forgiven for not holding much confidence in the process.
Which serves as a timely reminder, what happened to the Interim Office for Anti-Corruption which was to be headed by Judge Graham Ellis?
O’Neill disposed of Taskforce Sweep, and then aborted its replacement, seemingly in the dead of night when no one was looking.
If Lupari is now the moral barometer of anti-corruption investigations in PNG, god save us all.
Its time for O’Neill to implement the ICAC he promised, so an independent judicial authority, can scrutinize corruption.