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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Paraka’

Paraka again evading exposure and justice

May 1, 2015 1 comment

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.”


Related stories
More charges against PNG lawyer Paul Paraka over government fraud case
Top PNG lawyer Paul Paraka arrested over $28m
Paraka wiring large sums to his ‘Australian based wives and girlfriends’
Namah alleges fraudulent payment of K71.8 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers
The Paraka Scams: Read the archives; Download the report


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.

Paraka fails in latest bid to escape justice

April 17, 2015 Leave a comment

paraka

Paraka’s court bid dismissed

Post Courier

An application by controversial lawyer Paul Paraka to stop a series of criminal proceedings against him at the committal court was refused by the Waigani committal court yesterday.

Mr Paraka, who has been charged for defrauding the state of huge amounts of money and facing a series of counts of conspiracy, false pretence, misappropriation and money laundering, filed an application at the district court to stay the committal proceedings pending an appeal he is pursuing at the National Court to consolidate all the criminal proceedings against him.

Related stories

More charges against PNG lawyer Paul Paraka over government fraud case

Top PNG lawyer Paul Paraka arrested over $28m

Paraka wiring large sums to his ‘Australian based wives and girlfriends’

Namah alleges fraudulent payment of K71.8 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers

The Paraka Scams: Read the archives; Download the report

The application was filed pursuant to section 5, 9 and 32 of the District Court Act and seeking inherent powers of the District Court to stay the proceedings pending the determination of the National Court appeal.

Mr Paraka had submitted that the outcome of the National Court appeal would have direct effect on the committal court proceedings, and therefore those proceedings should be stayed pending the National Court appeal.

Senior committal court magistrate Cosmos Bidar, while making a ruling on the application, explained that the District Court does not have inherent powers and the clause relied on in the application was misconceived.

Magistrate Bidar explained that Section 155 of the Constitution only refers to inherent powers of the National and Supreme Courts and not the District Courts.

“Also in my view, the outcome of the appeal would not affect other cases…there is no appeal against any of the orders or rulings in relation to the current committal court cases.

“The appeal which is pending before the National Court would be either upheld or dismissed. Applications to consolidate all cases may go before another magistrate if the application is successful.

“Another thing is the question of whether the National Court has powers to consolidate the pending cases,” Mr Bidar said.

The magistrate therefore dismissed the application.

PNG NGO holds birthday bash over massive fraud case

March 6, 2015 4 comments

Birthday bash message

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.

 

NGO to highlight lack of action on K780 million Finance Department scams

March 2, 2015 1 comment

ACT NOW!

K780 million of public money was stolen through the Department of Finance. A Commission of Inquiry revealed who was responsible. But nobody has ever been prosecuted and none of the monies have been recovered. Join ACT NOW! at the Holiday Inn on March 5th to ‘celebrate’ this huge injustice (RSVP essential)…

ActNow Flyer FInal Version

More charges against PNG lawyer Paul Paraka over government fraud case

July 30, 2014 5 comments

By Radio Australia PNG correspondent Liam Cochrane

Paul Paraka was arrested in 2013 over 18 alleged offenses and now police have added another 32 charges (Credit: ABC)

Paul Paraka was arrested in 2013 over 18 alleged offenses and now police have added another 32 charges (Credit: ABC)

Police in Papua New Guinea have charged lawyer Paul Paraka with an additional 32 corruption-related offences, bringing the total alleged fraud to more than $AU100 million.

Anti-corruption investigators allege the PNG Government paid millions of dollars to Paul Paraka Lawyers for inflated or invented legal cases.

Mr Paraka was arrested last year over 18 alleged offences and now police have added another 32 charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and misappropriation.

The total amount allegedly defrauded by Paul Paraka is around $AU102 million.

The case has embroiled PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who is alleged to have authorised some of the payments.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Mr O’Neill.

PNG’s Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki is refusing to enforce the arrest, sparking multiple legal challenges and a split within the police force

PARAKA ARRESTED

July 27, 2014 1 comment

EMTV

 

Paul Paraka was arrested and charged this afternoon [Friday] by the Fraud and Anti-Corruption unit.

His arrest is in relation to fraudulent payments made to his law firm. His law firm received 162 million kina through fraudulent means.

He was arrested and charged with stealing by false pretense, conspiracy to defraud the state, money laundering and misappropriation of public funds.

He has been brought to the Boroko Police Station and will be released on bail.

Mr. Paraka will appear at the Committal Court in Waigani on Monday.

Director Fraud and Anti-Corruption Mathew Damaru told the media there are more people expected to be arrested and charged.

Whilst the legitimacy of the Task Force Sweep team is before the courts, arrests related to ongoing investigations into the Paraka saga, are continuing.

Mister Damaru said more arrests will be made in coming weeks.

Following the recent drama over the arrest warrant against the prime minister, the court-reinstatement of Task Force Sweep has not deterred, what has been described, as the wheels of justice turning.

Papua New Guinea’s Corrupt Paul Paraka Is At It Again: Colluding With the Judge

May 27, 2014 Leave a comment

By Legal Beagle – PNG Blogs

paul_paraka

 

Paul Paraka has long had a reputation, dating back nearly 20 years to his start in Madang, of shoddy ethics.  Stories abound of him harassing opponents through threats and intimidation, even actual physical violence carried out by his helpers.   Those who knew him back in his UPNG days, including his campaign for SRC office, were aware that this fellow simply doesn’t play by the rules.   He was not a well liked fellow back in those days.  Those who have followed the Paraka story since then saw it as no surprise when he became the centre of attention in the Department of Finance Inquiry (full document is here: https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/the-full-finance-department-commission-of-inquiry-report/), nor the more recent allegations that Paraka was continuing to milk the government for all he could, getting excessive payments in return for less than excessive legal service to the government.

It should be as no surprise either that Paraka has now been caught in the most compromising of legal positions:  He was seen giving a life to Pinnison Pindipia, the magistrate who is hearing applications that Paraka had filed before him, seeking orders from the Waigani Committal Court.  This relates to the various charges that Paraka faces for the multi millions he received from the government last year. 

The most recent incident was reported in last Friday’s (23 May) National.

Paraka has no defence for this latest incident because these kinds of things are simply not done by honest people.  Paraka, as a lawyer, should know better than anyone that you never, never, ever, ever, make contact with those who will render judgments either in your favour or against. 

Why Paraka did this is obvious and also without defence.  He is trying to buy his way out of trouble again.  Just like Peter O’Neill and Jimmy Maladina bought their ways out of their NPF court cases over a decade ago, Paraka is doing the same.

But these kinds of incidents are becoming painfully common in our court system, brothers and sisters.   Our judiciary is corrupt because many of our justices and magistrates are, themselves, corrupt and can be bought.  You think you can get a fair trial in PNG or get a fair hearing when you file a civil court case against someone else?  You’re dreaming!  Those days are over. 

Next time a conman like Paul Paraka protests that they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, realise that corrupt courts of law such as we have in PNG never find the guilty guilty.  Thus, “innocent until proven guilty” has become a farce.  It should no longer be tolerated as a shield for the corrupt to hide behind. When the courts fail, the media is our only hope at seeing justice served.  If our print media fails to bring the kind of transparency that will fight corruption and destroy the corrupt, our only hope is the social media.

PNG Blogs and PNG Exposed are the two best hopes for PNG right now.  We must get the truth down into the permanent internet record so that the likes of Paul Paraka and his friends will never be able to hide from what they did.Read all about the many escapades of Paul Paraka at this link:  https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/the-paraka-scams-read-the-archives-download-the-report/

Join hands with those of us who are determined that Paul Paraka won’t get away with another theft.   You can make a difference and help fight corruption if you do your part to make sure that any corrupt thing he does is publicised far and wide.   Find ways to publish on the internet his actions and the evidence against him.   Publish on the internet to get around any court injunctions Paraka may corruptly buy from a PNG judge.   Don’t forget that the educated PNG public was only able to see the Department of Finance Inquiry report after years of being covered up because some brave nationalist got ahold of a copy and leaked it to the overseas media, after which the entire inquiry was posted on-line by pngexposed.

Transparency and leaking of documents is how honest people can effectively fight in PNG’s current sorry state of corruption.

Paraka scam reports finally released

November 30, 2013 2 comments

Forty-two months after PNGexposed first published them – The Paraka Scams: K780 million stolen from the people – the courts have finally sanctioned the release of the Finance Department Commission of Inquiry reports

Damning report released into PNG’s Finance Department

By Liam Fox 

A judge in Papua New Guinea has lifted an injunction preventing the publication of a damning report into corruption at the country’s finance department.

A Commission of Inquiry spent several years investigating allegations of widespread corruption at the Finance Department.

In 2010, the day after its report was tabled in parliament, lawyer Paul Paraka and the former Solicitor General Zachary Gelu obtained a court injunction suppressing the report.

They sought a judicial review of the inquiry but the National Court has rejected the application and discharged the injunction.

The report details how the department paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in sham compensation claims.

It recommended more than 50 people including lawyers, senior bureaucrats and businessmen be referred for criminal prosecution.

COI Finance Department: Lest we forget

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

By PNG Echo

‘Cabal’ (Wikipedia) “… is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests… often by intrigue … The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence.” 

Corruption: systemic, systematic and contrived

The findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department (COI) stands, now, more than five-years-old, as a damning indictment of the inefficacy and lack of will of PNG’s criminal investigating agencies and those with the power to direct them.

Had the findings of this Inquiry been acted upon, PNG could have avoided up to seven additional years where large amounts of money remain unsatisfactorily accounted for. (Read: misappropriated – stolen).

It’s been described as a ‘cabal’: a high level conspiracy involving lawyers, public servants, banking officials, judicial officers, Members of Parliament (and, in a seeming continuation of the practices beyond the remit and time scope of the COI) even up to and including the current Prime Minister, all seemingly colluding to rob the coffers of the State of PNG – money that rightfully belongs to the people.

High Treason

The most shocking revelation of the COI is that the massive theft was perpetrated not just by outside lawyers and their clients, but facilitated by the very people who were paid and tasked with protecting the State’s interests in a breathtaking display of treachery, self-interest, venality and/or incompetency – (including, but not confined to) the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Secretary of Finance.

These trusted employees and representatives of the people of PNG callously and wilfully betrayed them.  Their crime, should it be proved, must surely be ‘high treason’.

The system exposed

An elaborate scheme had been put in place going back to the year 2000 to by-pass all checks and balances, enabling the payment of exorbitant and/or false claims – to the enrichment of everyone concerned in the cabal, who all got their cut.

It was so entrenched that it prevailed through various Secretaries of Finance, starting with Thaddeus Kambanei in 2000, his replacement Gabriel Yer and finally Stephen Gibson who inherited the system and, in some cases, increased the stakes and enhanced the unwritten and corrupt rules. Gabriel Yer, for unstance,not content
with his role as facilitator,  (with whatever riches that brought) launched his own claim from an incident involving a botched police raid that the COI suspected was bogus.

Officially, it was the job of the courts to determine the legitimacy of a claim and the Solicitor General’s job to defend the State’s interest in court but this system was constantly and consistently by passed.

…except for a very small number they [compensation awards against the State] comprise payment on liability incurred under default judgments or out of court settlement. (p12)

The State’s agencies ignored stated procedure, rules and even directives.

In evidence before the Commission current and past Secretaries of Finance, and former Attorneys General and Solicitors general have all acknowledged they were fully aware and conversant with the directions but incredibly, each stated that they were “mere policy” [original emphasis] statements that need not be followed. (p20)

Instead:

  • Late lodgments that should have rendered compensation claims unenforceable by law were entertained and paid out.
  • The Solicitor General’s Department, whose job it is to defend claims against the State in court, didn’t. Counsel for the defense failed to show up in most cases – and lost the case by default.
  • Nor did the Solicitor general follow up in court on the quantum.

Thus the Department of Finance acted as a de facto court, often making arbitrary decisions detrimental to the financial welfare of the State of PNG.

Whereas, the Finance Department’s only task was to find legally available funds in a ‘reasonable time’ to pay out adjudicated claims, in reality, their hand was constantly ‘in the cookie jar’ at their own pleasure.

The bastardized system had become normalized and deeply ingrained. Rorting of it was rife. Cooperating with this system was the bank that cleared and cashed compensation cheques immediately.

For the benefit of private lawyers

The Solicitor General’s Office and Department of Justice “failed to maintain its law office with adequate staff” according to the COI, This became the Departments’ excuse for failing in its duty to defend the interests of the state.

Yet there was always available money to brief private lawyers (the Departments in the period 2000-2006 exceeded the allotted budget by a whopping 10 million kina per annum in payments to outside private law practices, known as ‘brief outs’.)

Those sums [brief out fees] have provided a sure income for small law firms which have now grown on State business to 5 and 10 times the staffing of the Justice Department. (p34)

One of those private legal practices was that of Paul Paraka.

In a recent statement, a self-testament of good character, written subsequent (or a little prior) to his arrest, Paraka stated that his firm has 22 law offices nationally and that his firm “…prides itself in recruiting half of the Legal Training Institute pass-outs every year.”

Had the Department of Justice adequately staffed the department (the overspend of K10 million per annum would have been more than adequate) the state of PNG would not have been responsible for the unnecessary over enrichment of Paul Paraka Lawyers to its own detriment and, by association, the people of PNG.

Legally available funds and the Transfer Fund Suspense Account No 2

In 2000 and 2001 there were no allocations [by NEC] under the Appropriation Act for settlement of claims against the State.  However, the Secretary [Finance Department] illegally sourced well over K83 million to settie [sic] claims against the state… (p51)

…notwithstanding that NEC rulings have “…the force and authority of law.” (p18).

The establishment of a ‘slush fund’ helped him.

‘Trust Fund Suspense Account No 2’ was established illegally by the then Minister for Finance, Hon Andrew Kumbakor, after which the Secretary for Finance sought clearance from the Attorney General Mr Francis Danem – who cleared it.  Did he understand it to be illegal?  As the highest law officer in the land he ought to have.

The fund accrued monies to pay out the dubious claims when ‘legally available’ funds, weren’t.  It was kept topped up by monies sourced from unpresented cheques, cancelled cheques meant to be relodged in the original accounts, cancelled cheques that had been reissued (hence presented twice), refund cheques and other entries “…with no basis in accounting,” (p49).  This seriously skewed budgetary consideration for the departments and accounts where these cheques rightfully belonged.

At some stage, this account was revoked by the Minister in response to “…concerns about the way the trust was being used.” This notwithstanding, the cash book confirmed,  “…that the sum total of K130 million was paid out of the Account during the period 2002 to 2006 despite the ministerial assurance to the Auditor General that the Trust Deed was revoked.” (p56)

A law unto itself

The Finance Department had become a law unto itself answering to no one including and especially, the COI.

Senior officers of the Finance department have at all times been difficult even combative with the Commission. (p57)

Sam Koim of Task Force Sweep was prompted to ask an audience of AUSTRAC officers and bankers in Sydney (October 2012)…

… to imagine what would happen in Australia if your Department of Finance refused to answer to Parliament; if its members disbursed money without recourse to the national budget; if they colluded with each other and people outside the department to circumvent all controls, and misappropriated half of your government budget?

They would surely be prosecuted to the full extent of the law is the answer.  Corruption,on that level, once exposed, would never be tolerated in an Australian context.

Sadly: “Only in PNG.”

PNG’s media reeling from Government crackdown on dissent

November 14, 2013 4 comments

Source: Radio New Zealand

Papua New Guinea’s media are reeling from a crackdown by the Government as observers say media freedom is “non-existent”.

Three senior journalists were recently demoted by the national broadcaster, and a media adviser of the Sustainable Development Programme was deported last week.

As a major investigation into corruption from within the Government continues, the Prime Minister is leading a campaign to silence its critics.

Alex Perrottet reports:

In this year’s Reporters Without Borders media report, PNG has dropped six places in the rankings. This month, three editors and producers with decades of experience were told by NBC management they would be continuing in the archives section. It came after reports on the government take-over of the Ok Tedi mine, and on allegations the prime minister is implicated in the allegedly corrupt payments to the arrested lawyer Paul Paraka. The Chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum, Titi Gabi, says there has been strong pressure from the Government.

“TITI GABI: There is concern from individuals about what this means and where the industry might be heading because you know, managers have become the editors and it’s just quite silly, it’s quite dangerous.”

Titi Gabi says the pressure is not just on the national broadcaster.

“TITI GABI: This particular TV company has got instructions from the top, saying you can’t run anything on us that’s negative because if you do, you know, we’ll force you to sell your shares, we won’t renew your licence. So what you have is managers interfering with news – how ridiculous is that?”

The PNG media council has long been accused of inaction. A former editor of the Post Courier newspaper, Bob Howarth, says there’s a deafening silence, apart from social media sites and some brave journalists.

“BOB HOWARTH: It appears that the PNG Media Council has virtually collapsed and there are several looming threats to press freedom in terms of journalists being downgraded in the National Brodacasting Corporation.”

“The managing director of NBC, Memafu Kapera, declined to speak, but issued a press release saying the veteran broadcasters breached editorial policy and failed to follow instructions. But in an email, he would not say which reports undermined NBC’s reputation of fairness and impartiality. Of the three demoted, he writes: Two have fully understood the requirements of their new assignments and they are happy to take on the new responsibilities. They cannot run to the industry for protection using media freedom as a front.

Before his arrest, Paul Paraka had filed an injunction against the media for reporting on the allegations he had received massive payments from the Government. Police say they are now investigating people in high places in the Government, and since the arrest of Mr Paraka, the Government itself has issued directives on reporting.

Last week the media advisor for the Sustainable Development Programme, Mark Davis, was arrested by heavily armed police and deported to Australia with nothing but his passport, after criticising the Government for taking over the fund. The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neil, defended the move, saying Mr Davis’ had breached his work permit by playing politics. Mr Davis defended his role.”

“MARK DAVIS: Of course it’s going to have a political element. I write media releases for the chairman and the chief executive criticising the government, I write advertisements criticising the government’s actions and calling into question its behaviour, that’s my job.”

Social media sites have been campaigning for the PM to explain himself.