By PNG Echo
The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) has raised serious questions about the integrity of anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep (TFS) and its Chairman, Sam Koim, after, TFS exonerated expatriate businessman Gudmundur Fridriksson and his companies and associates who are the developers of the controversial Paga Hill estate.
In a press statement accompanying a 57-page report released today, Dr Kristian Laslett, who heads ISCI’s Papua New Guinea Research, claims that errors in the Task Force Sweep assessment are “seismic” and “can’t be put down to mere ignorance or inexperience.”
In October 2012, ISCI lodged a complaint with Task Force Sweep containing serious allegations about the developer. Nevertheless, Dr Laslett writes:
Sweep failed to make any substantive response for 19 months then during June and July of 2014 Mr Fridriksson personally petitioned Task-Force Sweep to ‘correct’ Public Accounts Committee and Auditor General’s Office findings.
Four months later Sweep released a ten page case-assessment exonerating Mr Fridriksson and certain associated corporate entities.
The assessment contains “startling errors of fact, law and method,” claims the ISCI who goes on further to accuse Task Force Sweep of entirely ignoring its own basic practice and procedure, notwithstanding that “Task-Force Sweep is highly literate in investigative procedure and the law.”
The ISCI report highlights a “lack of rigour” in the case-assessment of TFS which it says
- Is tainted by irregular practices
- Misrepresented the Public Finances (Management) Act
- Failed to consider the question of criminal liability
- jeopardized whistleblowers.
ISCI is calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to launch an arms-length, independent probe into Task-Force Sweep’s investigation of Mr Fridriksson and other associated entities.
ISCI suggests that any uncovering of systemic failures within Task Force Sweep should lead to a broader evaluation of Task Force Sweep’s casework, managerial processes and financial accounting practices.
The ISCI recommends that the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption be introduced at the earliest possible opportunity.
Task Force Sweep Chairman, Sam Koim, has been contacted to give his response to the report but although having read the messages has, so far, failed to respond. PNG Echo will publish his response should it arrive and whenever it arrives.