Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Lelang’

Judge recommends MP’s prosecution for role in fraud

June 25, 2017 1 comment

MP Joseph Lelang is the latest to be implicated in the scandals surrounding Eremas Wartoto

MP Joseph Lelang has already been the subject of a Leadership Tribunal, where he pleaded guilty to failing to file his annual statements. He has also been recommended for prosecution by the Task Force Sweep, now the National Court is recommending his prosecution…

Source: Radio New Zealand

A Papua New Guinea court has recommended the prosecution of an MP for his role in facilitating a multi-million dollar fraud.

Eremas Wartoto was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Friday. The sentencing judge has recommended a MP, Joseph Lelang, also be prosecuted for his role in the fraud. 

On Friday, the National Court sentenced a businessman, Eremas Wartoto, to 10 years in prison after he misused US$2 million of public funds paid to his transport company for the renovation of a high school.

In his judgement, Justice George Manuhu said the then-public servant and now MP, Joseph Lelang, and another public servant Brian Kimmins, lied to the court in giving evidence against Wartoto.

Justice Manuhu found the pair had a role in facilitating the payments to Wartoto’s company for which he said they should be prosecuted.

If Mr Lelang is prosecuted, he would not be the first MP ensnared by Eremas Wartoto’s business dealings.

Wartoto rose to prominence in 2013 when a former planning minister, Paul Tiensten, was jailed for misappropriating US$3.6 million to Wartoto and his other company, Travel Air.


The strange case of Joseph Lelang needs some explanation

May 25, 2011 5 comments

What was it that caused the acrimonious and rather public falling out between National Planning Secretary, Joseph Lelang, and his political masters?

Lelang has admitted paying out millions on behalf of his political masters

As Lelang has himself admitted [1], he has been involved in unlawfully dishing out hundreds of millions of kina from the national development budget on the orders of a small cabal of ministers at the very heart of government, including Arthur Somare, Patrick Pruaitch, Paul Tiensten, Peter O’Neill and, it is alleged, the Prime Minister himself, Michael Somare.

In February this year, Lelang was suspended from office, according to the Post Courier [2], for releasing K112 million for various projects under political directions from O’Neill, Tiensten and Pruaitch.

But surely this cannot have been the real reason for his suspension?

After all, Lelang, as he graphically illustrated himself in a memo to his Minister, Tiensten, dated December 6, 2010, [1] had been doing this for years at the behest of the National Alliance government: dishing out millions of kina to shore up political support for the government and enrich various individuals and their families.

Why would the hand he had been feeding come back and bite him?

O'Neill has already been recommended for prosecution in one inquiry

It also doesn’t make sense that Lelang was allegedly suspended for making illegal payments under political direction, because where was the action against his masters, the Ministers who had acted illegally in directing him to make the payments?

What seems much more likely is that Lelang was paying the price for something else – perhaps serving too many masters?

In this scenario it is rumoured that when Prime Minister Michael Somare directed Lelang to make a series of payments, totally K400 million, the PM was infuriated to be told that the money had already been used for the pet projects of a number of other Ministers.

In a fit of pique, so the story goes, Somare ordered Lelang be sacked. But how to explain this to the media? Caught by surprise, Treasurer Peter O’Neill  made vague statements about illegal payments and an independent audit of the role of the Department on National Planning in distributing the governments K4 billion development budget for 2010. [2]

But of course, the last thing Somare, Somare Jnr, Pruaitch, O’Neill and Tiensten would want is an independent audit that would reveal their sticky fingers all over hundreds of millions of kina in missing funds and illegal payments.

So what in fact happened was a much smaller and more limited inquiry was ordered, into just one very small portion of the whole development budget;  to ascertain in fact what had happened to the K400 million that the PM wanted for his own pet projects but which he found other Ministers had already beaten him too.

Even that relatively small inquiry, has uncovered a series of unlawful payments, illegal directions and questionable motives, leading to a stalemate where the government cannot move forward with Lelang’s sacking because the inquiry has implicated senior ministers and opened a whole series of new questions about other dodgy payments.

Of course Lelang has been able to use this impasse to lever himself back into his job.

Ministers will be wandering what Somare was thinking...

In mid-March, despite having also by then been referred to the Public Prosector by the Ombudsman Commission, for alleged misconduct in office on separate charges relating to his annual returns [3], Lelang obtained court orders allowing him to resume his position as Secretary, if the National Executive Council did not deliberate and make a decision on the original allegations against him within 14 days.

The whole of NEC be given an independent audit report that points fingers at senior government Ministers and raises questions that strike at the heart of the corruption in the National Alliance? Now that is not very likely to happen!

So how is the government going to extract itself from this pretty little mess where the police are now being used to restrain Lelang from getting back into his office in Vulipindi Haus, in defiance of the orders of the National Court. [4]

And what was the PM thinking in striking out against Lelang in the first place? Was his mind confused by his heart problems? Or did the realization of what he had done give him a heart attack?