PNG court prevents tabling of Paraka report
Source: Radio New Zealand
Papua New Guinea’s National Court has issued an order to prevent a Commission of Inquiry report into payments made to legal firms by the state, from being tabled in parliament.
The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, announced the inquiry last year, a day after an arrest warrant was served on him in relation to his alleged involvement in illegal payments to a law firm headed by Paul Paraka.
Our correspondent, Todagia Kelola, says the report by former judge Warwick Andrews is understood to have been completed, but the Fly River Provincial Executive Council went to court to seek a judicial review, arguing unfair treatment.
“That report was given to the Prime Minister to be tabled by him on the floor of parliament. Now the Fly River Provincial Government was aggrieved by that and went to the National Court seeking a judicial review on the COI’s report.”
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Court stops lawyer payments report
Source: Samuel Raitano / Post Courier
THE National Court had prevented Prime Minister Peter O’Neill from tabling the commission of inquiry (COI) report on the payments to lawyers and law firms by the State.
The stay order was successfully sought by the Fly River provincial executive council.
The COI was carried out by judge Warwick Andrew following issues taken to court over monies paid to law firms by the State which were claimed to have been dubious in nature.
The Fly River provincial executive council, led by the governor and district administrator, had asked the court to stop the report from being tabled as they wanted a judicial review by the court of law on its findings and recommendations.
Acting Judge Leka Nablu when handing down the decision said the plaintiff had relied on four grounds and one ultimate ground.
The ruling yesterday was in the PEC’s favour because it was claimed that the plaintiff (PEC) was not informed that there would be adverse findings made against it.
Justice Nablu said it was found that there was an arguable case and if the tabling was allowed to proceed there would be irreparable damages done to the plaintiff’s reputation if the court, in its judicial review, found that the contents of the report were not that correct.
Also if the judicial review found that the matter taken before it was improper it would not affect the Prime Minister to have delayed the tabling of the report.
In order to maintain the status quo, the tabling of the report was temporarily stopped until the judicial review was settled.
POGE’s four pastoral steps to heaven
Controversial business group Program of Global Excellence (POGE) has already launched its so called programs of enriching the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. On the Catholic feast day of the Divine Mercy at the Our Lady of Mercy church in Arawa, the POGE contingent was allowed to perpetrate their agenda during mass. Not only were they allowed to, but the presiding celebrant Fr. Thomas made the congregation remain by not ending mass. This was almost a blackmail of the mass ritual as the priest had, allegedly with intent, conditioned the people to listen to the representatives at a time when they were contemplating on the special feast day.
Read more about Momis and the people behind POGE: Bougainville’s President Momis teams-up with Filipino execs slammed in human rights scandal
The representative of the Filipino POGE contingent without shame began promoting business success under POGE. Again this was done during mass. What was revealed to the unaware and very much ill-informed congregation was the Four Pastoral Steps they have to follow in order to achieve success which will ultimately lead them to “heaven”.
POGE Representative: “Do you want to go to heaven?”
POGE Representative: “Then you must follow the four pastoral steps so that you can go to heaven!”
The four pastoral steps include business initiatives coupled with spirituality. Somehow the mixture of God and business struck a similar resemblance to the infamous International Bank of Meekamui scam run by King Julien look alike from the movie Madagascar; King Peii II, aka Noah Musingku.
The POGE representative further went on to say that the contingent were in Bougainville to set up the ground work in order for the program to start.
What was sad about the whole situation was the fact the Catholic Church of Bougainville is now very much involved with a group that has been criticized for human rights violations in the Philippines. There is no stop to this ridiculous circus of obviously crooked deals between the church and the government of Bougainville, particularly the current ABG house.
It seems now that the local directors of the Bougainville POGE business venture, including Dr. John Momis and Michael Oni; have left the task to the Catholic Church to facilitate POGE workshops at different parishes in Central Bougainville. And this cannot be good when the bulk of the population is predominantly Catholic, hence the cash-in on influence will be great.
A sad thing though the people will be at the receiving end of the stick when it comes to following the four pastoral steps to go to heaven. The talk of Arawa town at this time is the election and POGE, in almost every corner in town, local inhabitants of Arawa and the surrounding villages are curious about this business religion mix venture.
It seems that these local Directors and shareholders, President Momis and Michael Oni, also have the mining issue to tend to, well that is if they retain their respective seats for the presidency and the Ioro constituency this election.
The affirmation by president Momis on the mining issue indicates the very threatening fear that the people of Bougainville dare not to go through again. And now with this POGE program; the kind of outcome that will transpire when people realize that achieving heaven does not take four pastoral steps is something that will unfold at its own time. The people of Bougainville are not stupid, but they can be misled by those who they trust, particularly the church and government. And this is a gamble of peoples’ trust on a scheme that has a very shady background.
New NASA data shows a jump in forest loss in Madang Province during the first three months of 2015.
NASA’s Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change (QUICC), a MODIS satellite-based product that underpins Mongabay’s Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS), detected a significant increase in forest disturbance in Madang Province between January 1 and March 31, 2015. It’s presently unclear why the forest loss occurred.
GloF-DAS relies on NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor to detect changes in forest greenness cover relative to the year-earlier period. It registers change in all forest and woodland areas that have lost at least 40 percent of their green vegetation cover over the past year. Seasonal variation is generally mitigated through the product’s quarterly baseline.
The tool can help highlight areas where deforestation and forest degradation is occurring on a quarterly basis, potentially providing insight to authorities, policymakers, civil society, local communities, and academics.
GloF-DAS was developed in a partnership between NASA Ames Research Center, Cal State Monterey Bay, and Mongabay.com.
There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.
It is now 672 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.
O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.
In September 2013 O’Neill told 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 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”
But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.
For 672 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.
Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.
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.
From ACT NOW!
For those of you who are keeping track, this is an update on the Papua New Guinea members of Parliament who have been charged or found guilty and await sentence or have been imprisoned to date:
CHARGED: Francis Awesa, MP for Imbonggu, Works Minister
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, Nov 2014 for unlawfully engrossed a public easement for personal use and in the process denied the public right of access and failure to disclose a property. Public Prosecutor requested a Leadership Tribunal, March 2015
CHARGED: Delilah Gore, MP for Sohe, Community Development Minister
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, January 2015
CHARGED: John Hickey, MP for Bogia
Arrested and charged by police for misappropriation of K700,000, March 2015
PRISON: Havila Kavo, MP for Gulf
Found guilty of misusing US$50,000 from a trust account. Sentenced to three years prison, December 2014
GUILTY: Ronny Knight, MP for Manus
Found guilty of misappropriation of K900,000 by a Leadership Tribunal, March 2015. Awaiting sentencing.
CHARGED: Boka Kondra, North Fly MP and Tourism Minister
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission and suspended from Office for alleged misappropriation and misuse of funds including K85, 276 from the DSIP funds and District Support Grant; K134, 966 from DSIP and DSG funds in rental payments for accommodation in Port Moresby; and K18, 200 from the DSIP and DSG
CHARGED: James Lagea, Kagua-Erave MP
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission in January 2015 for his failure to submit Financial Returns as required under Section 89 of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates and his failure in upholding his duties and responsibilities of office as required under Section 27 of the Constitution and the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leaderhship.
CHARGED: Ben Micah, Kavieng MP and Public Service Minister
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, March 2015
The referral may relate to allegations the Minister has been living at the Grand Papua Hotel at the taxpayers expense
CHARGED: Belden Namah – Vanimo-Green MP
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission for alleged misconduct in office, April 2015. Mr Namah faces at least 16 categories of misconduct, including failure to declare his election expenses and failure to acquit public funds among others.
CHARGED: Peter O’Neill – Ialibu Pangia MP and Prime Minister
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission over accusations of bypassing proper procedures to secure a $1.3 billion loan from UBS bank to buy Oil Search shares for the PNG government. The referral is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court. O’Neill is also using the courts to challenge an arrest warrant issued in June 2014 over allegations of fraud
PRISON: Francis Potape, Komo-Magarima MP
Found guilty of misappropriation of over US$100,000, October 2014, and sentenced to 30 months prison
CHARGED: Puka Temu, Abau MP
Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, March 2015, for alleged misconduct in office. The first allegation relates to the facilitation and allocation of a piece of state land to a group in Western Highlands when he was Lands Minister in the Somare-Temu Government. The second allegation refers to a road contract awarded by the Abau Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee, allegedly to a company owned by a close relative of Sir Puka.
PRISON: Paul Tiensten, Pomio MP and Minister for National Planning
Sentenced to nine years prison in 2014 for stealing over K10 million.
In February 2015 convicted over the theft of a further K3.4 million with a further 3 years added on his sentence.
The Momis government has been plagued by serious allegations of high level corruption. Now it can be revealed that the President’s strategic planning head, Lauvatu Tautea, has been slammed by Taskforce Sweep for the alleged theft of K 7.5 million. Tautea has also been condemned by Prime Minister O’Neill for a separate alleged illicit payment, in the amount of K 10.9 million.
According to Taskforce Sweep when Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Cocoa Board Tautea wrote a two page letter to the National Planning Secretary on 15 July 2010, using the Board’s letterhead. This was not a proper project proposal format. In this letter Tautea stated that the Cocoa Board was sponsoring the rehabilitation and development of the Banio Plantation* on Bougainville. He nominated Rait Fama Limited to manage the project on behalf of the Board. Taskforce Sweep notes that what Tautea neglected to mention is that he and his wife were both Directors and signatories of Rait Fama Limitied!
Within just four days the wrongful proposal was approved. According to Taskforce Sweep the payment was made illegally from vote items 4203-2202-225 (K5 million) and 4203-2213-225 (K2.5 million) earmarked for the construction and improvement of roads for the Bogia-Angoram Road and East New Britain Roads. The bank account of the company, Rait Fama Limited, was opened on the 16/07/2010 at the Bank of South Pacific in Port Moresby, the K7.5 million cheque was issued on 19/7/2010. Why the Bank of South Pacific did not raise the alarm is anyone’s guess.
According to Taskforce Sweep, the bank statements indicate that most of the funds were diverted for personal use with huge amounts made on a cash payment basis, with some funds being credited to personal accounts. Some of the funds, Sweep notes, were used to purchase motor vehicles from Ela Motors.
This is not the first time Tautea is alleged to have abused public funding for his personal benefit. According to the Post Courier, the National Planing Department gave K10.9 million to Teariki Holdings Limited, to “educate farmers” about pest threat.
In a familiar story, Teariki Holdings was incorporated on 10 August 2010. The Post Courier states:
“The shareholders of the company are: Mr Lauatu Tautea (51), Nialapan Tautea (20), Pute Tautea (27) and Ruth Tautea (55). The directors are all of the above and Falope Tautea (22)”.
The paper goes on to note:
“according to the Registrar of Companies office, Teariki was incorporated on August 10, 2010 and several months later it was a lucky recipient of K10.9m”.
The then Treasurer, Peter O’Neill slammed the payment to Tautea’s company, stating
“I am appealing to all government agencies like the police fraud squad and the Ombudsman Commission to investigate and find out who authorised that payment I never authorised that payment”.
Despite the findings of Taskforce Sweep and the reporting of the Post Courier, Tautea was appointed head of Strategic Planning for Bougainville.
This news comes after the Momis government is reeling from other serious allegations of corruption. Earlier this year ex-combatants expressed concern over a K10 million payment made to a close friend of President Momis, Sir Henry Chow, via Chow’s company Hakau Investment Limited. The K10 million payment was evidently made to facilitate a feasibility study in 2010/11 of a proposed Torokina Oil Palm Plantation, despite strong local opposition. Given the lavish amount granted for a feasibility study, Bougainville’s Public Accounts Committee has earmarked this payment for investigation.
President Momis and his Natural Resource and Finance Ministers, were also found to be shareholders in Bougainville POGE Development Corporation. Controversially, POGE is a co-venture with a Filipino businessmen slammed in a range of human rights reports for land-grabbing, violence against landowners, illegal labour practices, and environment breaches.
There is also the question of the payments made to President Momis’ extensive team of foreign advisers, including his Development Advisor, Seagate Global. Seagate Global is a hedge fund, operated by US businessmen, William Lawton. While Seagate appear to have experience in financial trading, they have very little knowledge of rural development in Melanesia, which raises questions why they were appointed Momis’ ‘development advisor’.
As the scandals mount, it has to be questioned whether recent moves to unilaterally reopen the Panguna mine is motivated by a desire to develop Bougainville, as is publicly claimed, or is it instead a moved designed to generate a flow of revenues that will be captured by Bougainville’s political elite (at the expense of landowners!), to fund lavish lifestyles, holidays, cars, businesses and other luxuries. The record of the Momis government raises serious concerns in this respect.
*Note, there are allegations on New Dawn Radio that the Banio plantation was grabbed from traditional owners and sold off to the Queensland businessmen Geoffrey Mantle, who has close links to President Momis.