Today, Sam Koim, of Task Force Sweep, made an application to the Supreme Court to discontinue his appeal. The appeal was against the decision of Justice Colin Makail in the National Court that dismissed the judicial review of the disbanding of Task Force Sweep.
In finally accepting judicial defeat, and after three long years of court battles, Koim, nevertheless still sought to maintain control by asking the courts to direct the government and its agencies, by order, to surrender all Task Force Sweep’s files to line agencies and the Fraud Squad.
While the discontinuation was granted, the order to surrender the files, according to Koim’s direction, was refused.
This effectively puts control of the of the country’s disciplinary forces back where they belong – with the duly elected government of the day.
Therefore, the NEC’s 2014 decision to set up an interim office of ICAC under the direction of retired judge Graham Ellis now stands. I expect that the new office will take custody of those files forthwith and PNG will be welcoming the Judge back to its shores.
Just hours ago, the National Court of Papua New Guinea handed down its decision on the Judicial Review of the disbanding of the Taskforce Sweep brought by Chairman Sam Koim.
The court found for the Prime Minister, NEC, Attorney General and Independent State of Papua New Guinea, represented by Mal Varitimos, Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr and Nicolas Tame, and against Koim on all counts except the defense objection as to the competency of the plaintiff’s proceedings.
As the judgment found that the court did not have power to review the NEC’s decision to disband the agency and that the plaintiff had no standing to commence the proceedings even if it had, the objection as to the competency of the proceedings became redundant, anyway.
Koim’s arguments to the contrary were dismissed as not being established.
The proceedings will be dismissed on the grounds that first, the decisions in question are not reviewable. Secondly, even if they were, the requirements of natural justice did not apply. Thirdly, bias and bad faith have not been established, so as, unreasonableness. A further ground for dismissal is that the plaintiff lacked requisite standing to commence these proceedings. The objection to the competency of these proceedings was dismissed.
Justice Makail is a judge that has created the perception that he is firmly on the side of Koim and his cronies by the number of cases where he has found for them that have been overturned on appeal. Yet, he could not find any sound legal reasons to accept Koim’s arguments for his continued employment and the continuation of Taskforce Sweep.
The executive government is the body mandated to make these sort of decisions, not the judiciary, as Justice Makail so rightly pointed out in his judgment.
In my opinion, Sam Koim was promoted to a position way above his competency level – and I have written about the reasons for my opinion on many occasions. He should have accepted the decision to disband the agency and do away with his services with grace and dignity – not taken up the court’s time in a matter that should never have been before it. He has been pandering to his own bruised ego like a jilted cuckold.
The substantive case on the future of Task Force Sweep has, after six months of delays, received a trial date of 20th October at 1.30 pm.
The date was fixed on Wednesday (Oct 5) in the Waigani Court – Justice Colin Makail presiding.
With this case having been trial-ready since 13 April, and with Justice Makail, up to this point, entertaining adjournment after adjournment requested by Sam Koim, on Wednesday the Judge set aside all motions that would further delay the trial and it will go ahead as per the stated schedule.
After this matter is settled, Koim will then face the contempt charges associated with the publicising of the results of Task Force Sweeps investigations – in direct contravention of a court order.
Maybe on the 20th October PNG will, at last, get the answers it craves (or details officially confirmed) of matters of national importance such as who’s been funding Koim and whether the payments are legitimate or just more corruption?
When earlier today, a three-man bench of the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a National Court decision by Justice Colin Makail to join Police officers Gitua and Damaru to the judicial review of Chief Magistrate, Nerrie Eliakim’s decision to grant an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, in their judgment they raised a very good question.
…that a police officer wishes to execute an arrest warrant against the wishes or orders of the Police Commissioner raises issues as to why that Police Officer is of that view and believes he has such a particular interest in executing the warrant that he seeks court enforcement, against the position taken by the Police Commissioner.
Why do these maverick police officers think they can go over the head of their boss and appeal directly to the courts? Could it have something to do with their success when Justice Makail is the sitting judge – buoying them: encouraging their rogue tendencies?
Well…in journalism, we consider once to be an isolated incident, two times a coincidence but have it happen three times, and that’s a trend.
There are four instances that I’d like to highlight – I’ve called them ‘The curious decisions of Justice Makail’. There may be more than four, I may have missed some – if I have feel free to point them out.
Supreme Court says – noooo.
We’ve already looked briefly at yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that found that Justice Makail was wrong and had fallen into error when finding for Damaru and Gitua. His judgment was quashed.
And it’s not the first time lately, is it?
Back in July, the Supreme Court also set aside Makail’s decision in the National Court that dismissed Attorney General Ano Pala’s petition. Makail said Pala had no standing to bring proceedings challenging the validity of an arrest warrant until after he was arrested.
Justice Makail, that’s ridiculous!
There would be no point in trying to stop the arrest if it had already happened, now would there? That’s shouldn’t be too hard for a Justice of the PNG courts to understand, should it?
Luckily, the Supreme Court judges did not have the same conceptual deficit and quashed the arrest also commenting that:
None of the grounds for considering the arrest referred to…could reasonably have been believed to justify the arrest of the applicant.
The police officer who had had the arrest warrant sworn out was ….drum roll…wait for it…Matthew Damaru.
Is Justice Makail so mesmerised by Damaru that he cannot see what other Judges clearly can?
Seems the Supreme Court doesn’t think much of his judgments and I must say I find them …well…curious too.
A trip down memory lane – two more (but who’s counting?)
Cast your minds back to March to the time after Sam Koim took out a full-page advertisement in the newspaper allegedly in contempt of a court order stopping him talking to the press.
In the National Court, when this and Koim’s substantive case concerning the status of Task Force Sweep was up for mention, Justice Makail, on adjourning both, decided that the substantive case should be heard first.
Justice Makail seems to have a lot of trouble with sequencing. He’s put the cart before the horse again.
If the contempt is found to be proven and egregious enough then it could (and some would argue ‘should’) have the case thrown out. You don’t need to know the law – you just need to be blessed with a modicum of common sense.
Justice Makail, has done Koim a huge favour, removing one of the obstacles to his case. In the meantime He’s made himself look ridiculous (there’s that word again)– but that doesn’t seem to worry the good Judge as he errs in ways that a layperson who watches “Law and Order’ regularly wouldn’t.
And it’s for the same faction he subsequently favoured in his error-ridden judgments – in this case Damaru and Gitua’s little mate, Sam Koim.
And ironically, while Makail has no sympathy for the physical harm done to Lawyer Tiffany Twivey, back in April, after being manhandled and held in appalling conditions by policemen acting on behalf of Damaru and Gitua – before she was charged, for Sam Koim’s lack of preparedness he has all the patience in the world.
Even armed with a doctor’s certificate detailing the injuries Twivey had received, Justice Makail, would not entertain her request for a week’s adjournment and gave her just a day saying that the case was of national importance and needed to go ahead. (It was the substantive case of Task Force Sweep).
That it clashed with her appearance in court with her own case was not just serendipity – although it was that too – it was just too convenient for Koim to think could be anything but contrived. With the action of his mates, Damaru and Gitua, Koim avoided the witness stand – and continues to do so.
Ironically, at the same time, Justice Makail agreed to adjourn the case on the request of Sam Koim because Koim was not prepared.
This is possibly the most important case of his life – and he wasn’t prepared? How much time does he need?
Half a year, apparently.
Since that day, Justice Makail has entertained Koim’s requests for adjournments another three times that I’ve counted. – with Koim still making all sorts of specious excuses about why he’s not prepared – most involving his representation and Justice Makail buying them all and indulging him.
The case is currently listed for a ‘status hearing’ on 5 October. Why? Why isn’t the case just going to trial?
Justice Makail agreed to give Twivey one day’s adjournment but has given Koim 6 months. Does that sound balanced to you?
Makes you wonder what Koim is playing at and why Makail is facilitating it, doesn’t it?
Playing for time
The truth of the matter is that the substantive case was ready to be heard back in April. All the affidavits have been filed – the evidence has been collected and distributed – all neatly in ring binders.
Koim’s been dragging out this case. Why?
October 20th is the date when all public servants contesting the election have to resign, isn’t it? Hands up who thinks Koim will throw his hat in the ring? All of you? Oh, OK.
It’s not long until then, is it?
Supposing Koim can hold off this case until then, he can resign from his position (a bit of a joke, under the circumstances -but stay with me here) – he then tells the court that, not being the Chairman of Task Force Sweep, he doesn’t have any standing in the case anymore. He withdraws and the case collapses.
What a great outcome for Koim that would be!
Because, there is nothing surer than Koim will not step down from the witness stand smelling of roses if Twivey can get him in there to be cross-examined. Makail is thwarting that by granting all the adjournments.
I think Koim has an urgent need to avoid that witness stand, at any cost. I mean, if he’s going to stand for election, that’s not what he wants his constituents to remember – the day, with his hand on the Bible, that he was forced to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – so help him, God. The day his halo may have slipped and be choking him.
Mind you, with Makail hearing the case, I doubt that Koim would lose, precedents suggest that – but that’s OK, his judgment is likely to be overturned on appeal (those precedents again)
Now, I may be completely barking up the wrong tree, but just in case, and, as you’ve said, Justice Makail, this is a case of National importance, so be as punitive with Koim as you were with Twivey. Give him a day. Start hearing the substantive matter on October 6.
It has been difficult to unravel the many and varied thrusts and counter thrusts of the cases of John Mangos and John Tangit when they were both working at PNG Power Ltd (PPL). So, perhaps it’s best to start with the current state of play and work backwards.
John Mangos was charged twice with various offences, firstly relating to his employment contract with PPL and secondly with the allegedly illegal payment to a third party amounting to K62,000. Neither raft of charges got past a committal hearing where the both were found to be lacking in evidence. They were thrown out. Mangos is no longer with PPL.
John Tangit, having been stood down then reinstated, only to be terminated and who is implicated in corruption amounting to millions of dollars (by an independent investigation commissioned by Kumul Holdings and undertaken by a reputable Australian firm of investigators) is now back as at PPL (unconfirmed) having faced no criminal charges whatsoever – scot free – for now. How can this be?
From this information alone, it is reasonable to assume that the charges against Mangos were specious – and that’s certainly what the courts found when they threw them out.
It was Tangit that was the informant who commenced the second raft of charges against Mangos in a letter at the beginning of March this year, that he copied to various people, including the then appropriate Minister Hon William Duma, Paul Nerau, Chairman Kumul Holdings and Fraud Squad officer, Matthew Damaru – that stalwart supporter and enforcer to Sam Koim and the Task Force Sweep team.
So what would have precipitated this malicious and abortive prosecution?
Why would these Fraud Squad officers, who are lauded as exemplary and expert investigators by many, instigate proceedings against someone with so little and such flimsy evidence?
It just could be because the perception of integrity and competency is, in reality…well…just perception. The competency and the motivations of these officers has been seriously impugned by the fact that they, along with Sam Koim’s Task Force Sweep, have lost up to 50% of their cases at committal. Is this incompetence or something far more sinister – because it is either one or the other, there is no third way.
It seems the malicious litigation against Mangos was all to do with the findings of the abovementioned commissioned investigation that Mangos, as Director of PPL, was about to act on.
You see, the Mangos’ arrest and charges strikes a familiar chord – there is a precedent . It has all the hallmarks of a pre-emptive strike to suppress information becoming public – as surely as the ‘arrest’ of Tiffany Twivey was.
NEXT PART: What Tangit did and how did he get away with it? The case against John Tangit
Who can forget the mayhem and the abject misery as the bulldozers rolled onto Paga Hill and razed the houses and shelters of a long-established community – albeit a settlement.
Women were screaming, men were shouting but to no avail.
The police had been deployed to keep them in line; to keep the way clear for the bulldozing contractors to ply their heartless trade.
I remember a valiant Dame Carol Kidu standing in front of bulldozers trying to stop them only to be manhandled out of the way by the police. Her standing in the community meant nothing. These men had their orders and come hell or high water, they were going to carry them out.
This land now belonged to a foreign developer – and he had gotten ample assistance to stake his questionable claim, seemingly from all quarters – including some that will surprise you.
For Task-Force Sweep, under the direction of Sam Koim, had been arguably in a position to stop the purchase of the land by this foreign investor – but instead, they tacitly endorsed it.
It has been exactly a year (to the day) that I published the details of 57-page report of Dr Kristian Lasslett from the International State Crime Initiative see article here on the subject of Paga Hill.
In the report, Lasslett made a scathing attack on Task Force Sweep and Sam Koim saying that their assessment (which exonerated the developer – although other inquiries had not), had errors that were “seismic” and “can’t be put down to mere ignorance or inexperience.” Clearly he was suggesting corruption.
But in a new document to hand, he goes further.
In a letter from the International State Crime Initiative in November 2015 to the National Executive Council, Dr Lasslett says that Mr Fridrikssen (the proposed developer of Paga Hill) told his colleagues during an interview that “friends” inside Task Force Sweep had tipped him off to their investigation.
It seems to me that Fridrikssen needn’t have worried because, to sum up Dr Lasslett’s expert opinion formed as the result of the agency’s thorough investigation: Task Force Sweep’s investigation of the matter was at best, incompetent and at worst (and the indications are there) corrupt.
He goes on to warn of the
unsuitability of current Task Force Sweep management for any leadership position within the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption.
To my knowledge, the NEC has taken no action on this matter although I’m sure the findings of Dr Laslett’s extensive report would be made readily available to them.
The Paga Hill development is in partnership with the government of PNG, I’m told
The issue of Paga Hill has drawn much international attention, including the production of a documentary The Opposition which is itself steeped in all sorts of controversy itself read here
It could have been headed off at the pass, had Sam Koim been doing his job
So the big question is: Was Sam Koim merely incompetent or worse? In view of the inaction on the Somare case, is he a serial offender – who has danced to the tune of whoever played the prettiest music?
By PNG Echo
(Keep reading to the end where the document that answers the question is supplied.)
It was the National Executive Council (NEC) that established Task Force Sweep and it was the NEC that terminated the agency.
But Sam Koim couldn’t accept the inevitable. He was enjoying his elevated and internationally lauded position, notwithstanding his inexperienced and inept management of the agency that saw only half of his prosecutions make it through a committal hearing and of many of those that have, have been an unnecessary failure, according to a concerned legal expert.
Koim recently stated of the decommissioning of the agency:
It’s like the accusers threw us out of the ship in the middle of the deep ocean and expected us to drown and die, but when we made it to the shore alive, they then turned around and accused us saying “why are you still surviving?”
Actually, the situation was anything but.
They were let out of a very leaky, inadequate boat on the Jetty and told to go home – but Koim kept wading back into the sea then expecting someone to pay for expensive lifeguards to get into the surf with him and keep his head above water. It has been a wilful and continuing act.
The analogy is plain: We are talking about his many and various attempts to keep the agency afloat using expensive and illegally hired lawyers and barristers. Recently, for the third time, the Supreme Court made the ruling of their illegality bringing into question every and any court victory he may have obtained using the expensive counsel
Anyway, the question of who has been funding the agency as well as funding the litigation has been the burning question.
Ask no more.
Hereunder is an account from the Grand Papua Hotel for Mr Greg Egan, Koim’s senior counsel of choice, accomodation and food. The entity that was picking up the tab was Posman Kua, Aisi – Kerenga Kua’s old law firm.
I am also reliably informed that the ‘Dream Inn’ a Kua enterprise has also been used extensively – but that will remain speculation until someone can find an account I can publish. For now, let’s go with the one we have.
This is page 6 of Mr Egan’s accommodation bill with the final amount disclosed. I have receipt of the other five pages. Please note who’s picking up the tab.
I am about to publish a series of three articles, of varying lengths, which provide some of the answers we’ve all been wanting.
I have obtained documents, two with irrefutable evidence and another, from a credible (named) source that claims he has irrefutable evidence, that he can produce.
All three have a connection to Sam Koim, some directly some indirectly.
All of them serve to take the gloss off the pious ‘anti-corruption’ fighter and bring up very urgent reasons why he should be made to answer all the questions that these documents raise, on the witness stand, with his hand on that bible he purports to love and honour.
How many times can he have lawyer, Tiffany Twivey, arrested at the eleventh hour, to save his bacon?
The recent revelation that PNG’s former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, was named in a Singapore criminal prosecution as a recipient of $US784, 000.00 (K2, 540,000.00) has exposed Sam Koim’s position as a so-called anti-corruption fighter in PNG, as fundamentally compromised.
Since Task Force sweep was decommissioned by the NEC, Koim has been kept afloat by unknown private sources.
Is it Somare himself, or Somare’s political allies who are providing this funding?
It’s really time Koim came clean with the people of PNG about who is funding his operations. If Koim is, in fact funded by Somare or Somare’s political allies, this may explain Koim’s failure to prosecute or pursue Somare for this Singapore sling, wouldn’t it?
It might also suggest that the purpose of Koim’s relentless and well-funded attempts to remove O’Neill from his office as Prime Minister, is to install Koim’s pro-Somare benefactors in office, to protect him from prosecution for this crime?
Somare’s involvement in this scam, and the evidence required to conclusively prove it was provided to Sam Koim at the beginning of 2013, and Koim himself has publicly stated that he undertook some sort of official investigation . He declined to comment to the ABC reporter on whether or not Sir Michael had been interviewed by the Task Force.
The prosecution in Singapore was commenced in 2012, and Koim was provided with the evidence in 2013. Why has it taken so long for Koim to act in this matter? Has he even undertaken that basic, fundamental step of interviewing Somare in the investigation process?
According to Koim, he was unable to institute any prosecution in this matter because he was “defunded” by the O’Neill government. Again, given his pursuit of the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill through the courts of PNG since 2014, this is also hard to accept.
He seems to have garnered sufficient funds to maintain his home, his office and his own sustenance. He had sufficient funds available to illegally engage an expensive team of international and local lawyers, including Greg Egan, and Terry Lambert from Brisbane.
He had sufficient funds to orchestrate the unsuccessful prosecution of the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Judge, and several Police Commissioners, and anyone else who stood in the way of his contrived attack on the Prime Minister.
So Koim had no trouble financing these prosecutions, all of which failed. At best, they wasted precious resources (wherever they may have come from) which could have been more successfully spent prosecuting Somare.
Koim’s antics since 2013 have all been financed by persons unknown, bent on seeing O’Neill stood aside from the office of Prime Minister, at all costs, including the corruption of the prosecutorial and judicial systems.
Who would benefit from such a thing? Why, Somare and his political supporters would, of course. It’s time Koim revealed who is paying him.
What do Attorney General, Ano Pala, Aloysius Hamou and Francis Potape have in common?
Well, while the recent circus that was the Vote of No Confidence was keeping the whole nation entertained and distracted, in the nation’s courts, the three, abovementioned, gentlemen’s criminal charges were being overturned, quashed, and disallowed.
All three were cases being prosecuted on behalf of the Fraud Squad – featuring Messrs Gitua and Damaru.
These cases have been variously found to be incompetent, ill–conceived, or both as indeed was the case against Justice Sakora – thrown out too.
Other Fraud Squad cases still to be decided are that of lawyer Tiffany Twivey, John Mangos of PNG Power and the Prime Minister himself.
Given the precedents of Fraud Squad incompetence and overconfidence in their ability to influence the courts, that these cases should go the same way is more than likely (except if Justice Colin Makail is hearing them, that is)
The Fraud Squad are not conducting legitimate investigations into corruption but overseeing a witch-hunt.
It’s politically strategic
These rogue elements in the police force are aiding and abetting those with a political agenda to effect that agenda, illegitimately, through the courts and these three recent cases illustrate that all too well. See the details here
It’s the premise that those charged with an offence occupying high office should step down that excites the Fraud Squad and their political sponsors and urges them on to more spurious arrests.
Indeed, had the Attorney General stepped down on his arrest warrant being effected his electorate would have been without a member for the last two years and the national parliament would have been deprived of his services. And all for specious charges that held no water (as was found in the judgment).
But it is the ‘step down’ demand on the Prime Minister, in particular, that has culminated in the opposition seeking the court’s aid to force a Vote of No Confidence in the parliament – a vote that proved to have no chance of getting up – and the Supreme Court complied.
There is considerable debate in PNG as to whether the Supreme Court overstepped their jurisdiction and breached the separation of powers. More money will no doubt be expended on finding the answer to that.
That is, more money than the compensation likely to be claimed by all of those who were burned by the Fraud Squad’s incompetence and misguided zealotry.
These men of the Fraud Squad may be presenting themselves as God’s police; occupying a moral high ground that they have personally defined, but in actuality they are nothing short of loose cannons and dangerous vigilantes.
The political opposition is looking to the nation’s courts to effect a political solution that they are incapable of effecting in legitimate, political ways.
God help us all, if the courts co-operate any further – and yet, the three decisions this week give me hope that the law will triumph over vested interests.