Corruption: Somare’s blueprint – Koim’s selective myopia

By PNG Echo.

Sir Michael Somare the founf=ding father of corruption in PNG - still at it, after all this time.
Sir Michael Somare, the founding father of corruption in PNG – still at it, after all these years.

If you need schooling in corruption, you need look no further than the lessons the founding father of Papua New Guinea, Governor of East Sepik Province and former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, can teach you.

Sir Michael is the chief architect in the shaping of a corrupt political culture that the international diplomatic community describes, in private, as a “dysfunctional blob.”  See article.

The jargon

The jargon of corruption like –  inflated contracts, bribery, kickbacks, travel junkets, unfulfilled contractual obligations, nepotism, lack of transparent accounting, circumvention of process, cronyism, disreputable companies, lying under oath, non-disclosure, payments in the proverbial “dribs and drabs”, conflicts of interest and high-ranking patronage are all here in the story I’m about to tell you.

It’s also a tale that acts as sad indictment of Task Force Sweep’s failure to act on evidence in their possession (and they have all I have and more, and have had it in their possession for three years). It serves to add weight to the accusation that their pursuit of the allegedly corrupt is excessively influenced by politics.

It’s all about a contract involving Papua New Guinea

This particular shady contract has drawn the keen interest of the inscrutable Singapore Public Prosecutor who has charged two of the main protagonists, Lim Ai Wah and her husband Thomas Doehrman, with engaging in a conspiracy to falsify a paper with intent to defraud.

The “paper” was an invoice from a company in the British Virgin Islands (Questzone) to ZTE Corporation (the main contractor in the PNG contract) that was purportedly for supply of goods and services but instead was to collect a commission payment of $US 3.6 million (kickback) for the awarding of said contract in Papua New Guinea (to build community colleges).

The allegedly false invoice was needed to justify highly irregular distribution of the said payment to persons with a clear conflict of interest (which will become apparent as we progress) – that included Doehrman and his wife, the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael M Somare (also known as ‘Moox’)

But the Singaporeans have just scratched the surface – this is the stuff Commissions of Inquiry are made of – and God help us, we need another Inquiry (when will they invent an ironic font?)

The case in Singapore is ongoing.

Background to a rort

It was an accepted proposal that community colleges would be built across PNG to educate people who had ‘dropped out’ or had been otherwise unable to complete their education.

In 2010, PNG Department of National Planning kicked in K56 million, K90 million was provided by a loan from the Chinese Exim bank ($US36 million), a further amount of K10 million was drawn from RESI funds for which the payee, originally the East Sepik Provincial Treasury Office was later changed to the Merienburg Community College Trust Account.

That’s a grand total of K156 million

A trust was set up to administer the funds (LTE) ZTE Corporation was appointed the lead contractor.

Paid contracts, unfulfilled

There were 17 proposed colleges, two of which were to be privately funded, 15 to be funded by monies administered by the LTE trust.

According to a report by the Department of Education dated 19 June, 2013 the status is:

  • 2 – completed and operational
  • 3 – completed
  • 1 – ready for construction
  • 9 – not established due to land disputes

But others have informed me there is absolutely nothing to show.

Take the case of the college to be built in Wabag that had an establishment cost of K5.08 million for which K5.2 million was disbursed there. Reports state that it is one of the colleges that is caught up in land disputes and yet, it is also reported that all funds were fully exhausted or fully committed with no infrastructure or construction in evidence anywhere.  So what exhausted over K5 million – what was it spent on if not the college?

Worse, is the case of the Merienburg College where K17 million was deposited into their trust account, yet there is no college there: it falling under the ‘not established due to land disputes’ category. So how was that money spent?

This is blatant corruption: Task Force Sweep, has had this information since 2013 

The Somare connection

There is one person who is prominent in all the dealings, he’s the ‘friend’ in high places’, and let’s face it there’s none as high has the office of the Prime Minister and no Prime Minister more prominent in PNGs past nor present, as PNGs founding father, Sir Michael Somare.

Sir Michael’s fingerprints are all over this deal. It was Sir Michael Somare

  • …who was the Prime Minister at the time that the scheme was approved.
  • …that put his own cronies into the ITE trust (that distributes the monies) including his own son Michael Junior (Moox).
  • … who provided the only invitation for the appointment of Moox and Thomas Doehrman as trustees to ITE, circumventing protocol.
  • … that was one of the 4 recipients who shared a commission of $US3.6 million in a distribution decided by Moox, Thomas Doehrman and Stephen Li of ZTE Corporation.
  • … that having put his cronies in place in LTE they then enlisted ZTE corporation as the main contractor, paying them the money from the Chinese Exim loan ($US36 million – 90% of the contract price) from which the commission of 10% could be disguised as payment for services and goods and paid to the British Virgin Islands company set up for that purpose, Questzone.
  • … and his cronies in LTE that overlooked or approved and paid the inflated ZTE initial quote, that went from $US10 million to $US24 million and finally to over $US38 million.
  • … and 10 other people (said to include members of his family) who spent almost K15 million in travel expenses flying to China to sign contracts that could have been handled by one person in Port Moresby with the aid of the Chinese embassy.
  • … who failed to disclose all of the ‘advantages’ of which he’s been the recipient in this deal. He lied under oath.

What’s more:

  • It was under Sir Michael Somare’s watch that the Department of National Planning was complicit in paying monies into trust accounts in “dribs and drabs” to keep the accounts under the payment approvals threshold and thus to circumvent scrutiny
  • It was Sir Michael Somare’s cronies who, having bypassed all standard procedures, hired a company (ZTE) that had been suspected of corruption in relation to contracts in the Phillipines, Mongolia, Norway and Algeria.
  • It was Sir Michael Somare’s crony, Thomas Doehrman who received monies (K3 million) in a trust account he set up which had been earmarked by the NEC to be operated by the community college scheme’s architect, Dr Alphonse Xavier.

The Koim disconnect.

So what more do they want? The fish has literally jumped on the line for them.

Our brave corruption fighters who have no qualms in accosting and arresting female lawyers at airports and manhandling them roughly to the point of bruising –seem to be having a problem with this one. Why’s that?

All the evidence I have and the Singapore authorities have, Task Force Sweep and the Fraud Squad – Koim, Damaru and Gitua have also had for three years.

It seems, for them, it’s a legitimate use of their time to harass the current Prime Minister when he has already stated that he has received no benefits from the Paraka case and that if they can produce some evidence to the contrary he will give himself up (clearly they can’t produce any, because they haven’t) – yet they cannot act when there is a clear trail of evidence with recorded payments and a sworn statement taken by the Public Prosecutor in Singapore from Lim Ai Wah implicating all.

In fact Lim Ai Wah has been a wealth of information:

When asked if she knew that the money deposited in the Questzone account ($US3.6 million) was from the proceeds of crime, she responded:

I wish to say yes but I wish to say that if you don’t pay to the PM PNG you will not be able to get business from PNG.

She also went on to say:

I wish to state that the 3 payments labelled ‘Housing’…were made for the purpose of helping PM PNG to pay for his house and his son to pay for a separate house…Hence the US$280,000 and US$224.000…were meant for the PM PNG’s use of housing loans.

She goes on further:

Sometime in 2010, I received a call from the son of PM PNG asking me to send money to him. I told him the amount set aside for him was US$280,000 but since he did not have an account in Singapore, I wrote a cheque to PM PNGs bank account and told him to pass the money to his son…”

Let me reiterate: This is a sworn statement by one of the parties (married to Thomas Doehrman – a trustee of LTE) who has admitted this, under oath with evidentiary support (bank accounts etc).

Lim, her husband Thomas Doehrman, a trustee of LTE, Michael Somare Junior – Deputy Chairman of LTE and Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of PNG all benefited from the proceeds of crime to the tune of $US3.6 million.

The conflict of interests is clear.

Sir Michael Somare, at best, has failed to disclose these payments, even during a Leadership Tribunal (it could be why he’s so chary of fulfilling his statutory duties and filing his returns) and at worst…?

All hail the Chief!

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17 thoughts on “Corruption: Somare’s blueprint – Koim’s selective myopia

  1. I have always stated that the founding fathers of PNG have designed this weak democracy system for their own selfish benefit.

  2. Very interesting read. If the Prime Minister and Founder of this nation can be be so corrupt to that extent, then we expect nothing better from the current PM and other future PMs of this country because the precedent has been set and people working in the government offices are well educated and experienced to play this game.

  3. A good combinatiion: Somare (politics on the surface but corruption behind the scenes) and Koim (anti-corruption on the surface but politics behind the scenes).

  4. A well-researched Pro- O’Neil Propaganda article trying to poetry Sir Michael is the father of all corruption and your Peter O’Neil is the Saint.

  5. So what now? Oneil or Somare? Oneil fits in perfectly as a clinical theif who stitches up his operations with such precision techniques whiles Somare on the other hand was just over confidently thinking invincible.

  6. Somare is History – with hindsight it seems he will be remembered more for the bad thing he eventually did. O’Neill is likely to be arrested and relegated to irrelevance. Unless there is divine intervention PNG is on course to receive one more accidental PM – rarely do they win mandate in a general election. So who will it be this time? Is it the corrupt Kerenga Kua? He facilitated the ‘legal’ side of the rot in later part of Somare’s reign. Will it be Big Bad Ben? Or will it be Don? He was happy to coexist with Somare, and later O’Neill, if they allowed him a small dignified space to himself. Will it be one of the unknowns with none of the strengths required to be PM? Be careful what you wish for PNG. Politicians always become corrupt in the end. In PNG it happens very quickly and sadly that’s inevitable! Yep, corruption is the new normal in Paradise!

  7. Somare should be striped of the name “Father of the Nation”. Hes a gullible yellow bellied scoundrel with his off-springs have reaped this country off millions of Kina and living in luxury while rest of us Papua New Guinean’s try to make ends meet for our survival on a daily basis. All his and his children s assets should be confiscated by the country both within and offshore and send all to serve time in jail. This should apply to all other politicians, their cronies and department heads who have stolen and are living in a splash in Australia or else where and come into the country in the pretext of work and steal more.

  8. That’s very interesting, now things are starting to come out in the light now. I don’t know where is our future, how will this country be in the next 5 – 10 years time. I can’t believe the founding father of this nation can do this. I think he doesn’t deserve to be given the title ‘father of this nation’

  9. For some reason I have never trusted Somare. Now I know why. I actually lost any respect I had for him a couple of weeks ago when information surfaced about the payments that were made to the Grand Chief and his wife while he was lying unconscious in a Singapore hospital bed. May be he was unconscious and oblivious to the fact that he was receiving huge allowances, but certainly when he woke up, he would have refused to receive the money. The fact that he willingly accepted the so-called allowances even on the death-bed left me thinking about what else he may have done during his long reign as MP and PM. This particular deal with the Singaporeans throws a lot of light as to what could have been happening all this time. It is most probably not a one-off incident.

    As for Task Force Sweep, it is their discretion to pursue the corrupt. Who they give priority to is their call. But it does raise questions as to why they haven’t pursued this matter, which seems to be an easy one to prosecute seeing most of the information is available in the form of sworn statements in the Singapore court. It also throws light on why the current PM is adamant about remaining in office. He probably knows that not one of the former PMs is clean so the fact that he is being pursued is probably politically motivated.

    If Somare has done what he did, I am sure all the other MPs and PMs he had a part in influencing and grooming have done similar things, which explains why PNG is the resource-rich but poor and backward country it is today. Only in eternity will we know how all the people who have had the privilege of being elected leaders, including the much-coveted position of Prime Minister, have done.

  10. The Somare family even ‘took’ from my my family and me, even though they are already making millions.
    We own a small business in the heart of Wewak where we employ more than 20 unfortunates. In 2002 when we openly supported a candidate during the election, the Somare family was so pissed they used the NDB bank to encourage us loan with a very high interest compared to others. We made a greatest mistake ‘un-knowingly’ and accepted the loan worth far less than our property.
    To make it short, Sir Michael and his family through Sana Somare used NDB and kicked us out of our property. We lost everything to our own so called founding father and his family.
    From that day on, I see this family as crooked as crooked can get. We never got back our property.

    This ‘Somare’ family must be investigated for all their deals of past and present. The chief is no chief at all!

  11. Sorry for Png at this stage now that the truth as revealed so get all this thieves n prosecute them n jail for their selfish n greed mentality treatment to the innocent people of this Christian country Png. Thanks to the almighty God.

  12. For Goodness shake wake up to yourself PNG. Somare has been a fighter and winner in all facet of his life. He is father of a corrupt nation, a regression nation, a nation without direction just existing for the shake of it.. what a shame…if not in political front, he has to win… he will make sure O’Neill is destroyed . Only O’Neil has won him in battle and do you think the father PNG (father of PNG Today) will gracefully exit as a looser!!!!!?… Someone has to be behind the scene to push Damaru, Gitua or Koim to. pesistantly push and push..

  13. The man who became Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare was lucky enough to be the guy on the scene when the Australians (under pressure from United Nations) granted this country independence. Somare did not fight any wars for independence. He suffered no bruises. He endured no suffering. None of our ‘founders’ did. It was a smooth handover and power transition. Somare and his family and close associates have benefitted handsomely over the long time he lorded over us. Thank you very much!

    So what has he done for this country in return?

    None! Zero! He may have kept ‘safe’ for sure but his vision of peace and security for the country is like papa kela chewing betel nut under a coconut tree whilst mama ya tuhat paitim saksak stap lo fidim em.

    O’Neill is now energizing and empowering this country like none of his PM predecessors did. Take a look at the pictures of the nation, of the nation’s capital, in the last days of Somare before the O’Neill stepped in, and how things look now. That’s the difference I am talking about.

    Sure, there was an error of judgement by O’Neill on the economic outook before he obtained loans. Most countries didn’t know the price of oil (& gas) was going to drop like a sack. We would have money coming out of our ears had the oil price not dropped as much as it did.

    Getting loans to to kick start us out of the hole Somare kept us in, through a capital works program is demonstrating initiative and leadership. For the record Somare squandered our oil & mining wealth. Had the price of oil not drop to the oecean floor, by now everyone would be singing the national anthem on paved capital city streets.

    • What about the other side, Truth Hurts, why is the country so short of money that it can’t pay its public servants on time when we have just waved goodbye to the 200th load of LNG – why are the people of Teis Village in the Western Province, just to name one, no better off now then they were in 1962, why are people in the Western Province and elsewhere suffering from preventable diseases this long after Ok Tedi , Porgera and Kutubu have been operating?
      Commodity prices do not explain any of this – bad financial management in all its manifestations does.

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