The curious decisions of Justice Makail.

By PNG Echo

Justice Derek Hartshorn - one of the three Supreme Court Judges that overturned Justice Makail's decision today
Justice Derek Hartshorn – one of the three Supreme Court Judges that overturned Justice Makail’s decision today

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.

Justices of the Supreme and National Courts
Justices of the Supreme and National Courts

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?)

Sam Koim - playing for time?
Sam Koim – playing for time?

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.

What the…?

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.

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

Sam Koim leaves the Waigani court - with his illegal counsel
Sam Koim leaves the Waigani court – with his illegal counsel

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.

Waddyasay, hey?

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The PNG Power saga (Part 1)

By PNG Echo

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.

b57ded_30ee39e57f0c419497561345ba026257-jpg_srz_233_350_85_22_0-50_1-20_0
John Mangos

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.

tangit-1-1
John Tangit

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.

Matthew Damaru
Matthew Damaru

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?

Sam Koim
Sam Koim

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

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Paga Hill – Koim’s complicity

By PNG Echo

Paga Hill residents in the rubble that was their homes
Paga Hill residents in the rubble that was their homes

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.

Dame carol valiantly tries to get through the police cordon.
Dame carol valiantly tries to get through the human cordon.

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.

International scrutiny.

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.

ist-page-letter-to-nec-16-november-2015letter-to-nec-16-november-2015It 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 Hollie Fifer documentary on the Paga Hill development.
The Hollie Fifer documentary

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?

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The Defense of Task Force Sweep (Who’s funding Koim?)

By PNG Echo
(Keep reading to the end where the document that answers the question is supplied.)

6a00d83454f2ec69e201a511c676d5970c-250wiIt 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.
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Somare’s Singapore sling leaves Koim with a hang-over

By PNG Echo

The Grand Chief - irrevocably implicated
The Grand Chief – irrevocably implicated

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?

The famous crying 'selfie' - are crocodile tears a fitting tribute
The famous crying ‘selfie’ – are crocodile tears a fitting tribute

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.

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Look who’s talking – Foreign media.

By PNG Echo.

The failed state of PNG

proclaimed the headline of Australian ’boutique’ publication The Saturday Paper, (its author, Mike Seccombe)

This is opinion and, in my opinion, it is tainted opinion.

It’s a melange of the same old sources, saying the same old thing, displaying a nostalgic longing for a time passed when Papua New Guinea was ‘get rich and get out’ country unimpeded by governments who were far more malleable than this one.

Take the headline – incorrect:  the very first indication of a failed state is when the government loses control of its disciplinary forces. That hasn’t happened – nor will it. O’Neill is still the Supreme Commander of the PNG armed forces and O’Neill appointee, Chief of Police, Gary Baki, is doing a sterling job of maintaining discipline even with a few court-backed rogue police as thorns in his side.

Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro
Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro

Ironically, the article was brought to my attention on the Facebook page of Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro and the politician who is spearheading a campaign to #takebackpng# – it was republished with just a small comment by the Honourable Governor  “It has come to this..” It was ‘shared’ by dozens of his Facebook friends.

I don’t know what the Governor means: It’s come to what?

But certainly if PNG is going to be taken back then perhaps overseas reports, such as this, should be exposed for what they are: highly inflammatory, bordering on libellous, focused on Australian interests and quite often wrong.

The author and his ‘sources’                   

Last November, in The Australian Media Watch Dog‘, Gerard Henderson named Mike Seccombe “Media fool of the week” for his front-page article on Cardinal Pell.

Henderson points out that “…”Smirk” Seccombe’s sources – for want of a better word,” are hardly impeccable and are most often nameless, such as “Cardinal Pell’s “most trenchant critics,” and “Pell’s anonymous critics” and even “some influential figures in the church” – and while Seccombe in his article about Papua New Guinea does name some of his sources, he fails to point out the ‘elephants in the room.’

Lawyer Tiffany Twivey
Lawyer Tiffany Twivey

However Papua New Guinean lawyer, Ms Tiffany Twivey who counts amongst her clients the Prime Minister and who was recently arrested by the aforementioned rogue police operating outside of the purview of Chief of Police in very controversial circumstances, has no such qualms writing:

That terrible article [Seccombe’s on PNG] – quotes Paul Flanagan, an Australian – who is failed former PNG treasury employee who has been writing “the sky is falling” economic forecasts for PNG since he was sacked. Then there are the team from development policy at ANU – where people go if they can’t get a job actually in development.

She goes on:

Lawrence Stephens formerly of PNGSDP, currently, Transparency International
Lawrence Stephens, Transparency Int.

As for Lawrence Stephens – well he was working for PNGSDP when the government took over OK Tedi – lost his job. Former catholic Secretary General for PNG who has made a career out of pointing out problems in PNG but never actually helps to solve them.

For my part, my particular fascination is with Seccombe’s source that couldn’t be named “for good reason” – but we’re told he is a former senior Australian government official – and as such I can’t imagine why he needs to hide his identity – only people with something to lose need to do that – and maybe that’s the nail hit squarely on the head, especially when we read later:

You have to be careful about putting your name to criticism these days if you ever hope to get back into PNG. Hence the reluctance of our old hand, quoted above.

Now I understand.  Is this “old hand” hoping to get a lucrative government job in PNG to cushion his retirement? The government’s policy of dispensing with overseas ‘consultants’ would not have suited many with such plans and they’d be understandably bitter.

Seccombe, even in quoting Dr Ron May (emeritus fellow to the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at ANU), only gives some basic widely known and understood context – handy for an ignorant Australian audience but unnecessary for a Papua New Guinean one.

And that’s the crux: Australian’s are Seccombe’s audience. It’s written from their point of view and with their best interests in mind and with Australians giving their ‘expert’ opinions on Papua New Guinea to other Australians.

So why is a PNG audience on the social media, who describe themselves as ‘elite’, taking so much notice?

Every Australian article that I read about Papua New Guinea recycles the same old ‘experts’ who carry the same old trite views. Invariably they are Australians who have had lucrative careers as ‘consultants’ to Papua New Guinea and are clearly missing the ‘good old days’ where Papua New Guinea was more easily exploited and are alarmed at the rapidly changing landscape.

It’s becoming a habit.

It was just in January, this year that I wrote about the article by Bill Standish (also associated with the Development Policy Centre – about which Ms Twivey is so scathing) making the same observations about its useful contribution to Papua New Guinea (as opposed to Australian interests)

Standish makes many of the same assumptions that Seccombe does, especially about Task Force Sweep.

Sam Koim - has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he'd rather avoid.
Sam Koim – has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he’d rather avoid.

While Standish talks of “several” convictions of the agency, Seccombe talks of their “40 high-profile arrests.” Nowhere in either article could be found the figures that illustrate the abysmal failure of the agency:

In the figures that Sam Koim (ITFS Chainman) provided the PNG public recently he claimed to have registered 350 cases – 93 that were ITFS initiated of which 12 were successful.
Those figures neither take into consideration that the conviction of MP Francis Potape (one of the only two major convictions of ITFS – the other being MP Paul Tiensten – twice) was successfully overturned on appeal nor that some have mooted that this may be the fate of other convictions.
For now, it stands at 11 out of 93, or 11.83% success rate! Based on the cases registered (350), the success rate comes out at 3.1%. Indeed, a full 50% of ITFS cases have not made it past committal. (My emphasis)

To support their shaky thesis they have also needed to overlook the fact that Koim is embroiled in his own allegations with a charge of Contempt of Court dogging him along with the question of who is funding him.  When this question can be answered then Koim may be further discredited. Another elephant in the room ignored.

Lying can be as successfully achieved by omission as by commission.

PNG Courts

Just for good measure, the anonymous “old hand” and Professor Stephen Howes (yes, another source from that Development Policy Centre) – are in agreement that the court system in PNG is probably the last bastion of democracy and the only PNG government institution that can be trusted to function effectively.

Justice Terry Higgins
Justice Terry Higgins

This notwithstanding, Howes does mention a couple of appointees (though not by name) who seem to have been corrupted but is eager to point out that it isn’t the ‘white’ judge, Justice Terry Higgins, who was a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the ACT. No it wouldn’t be the Australian, would it?

While I have also not seen any evidence that Justice Higgins is anything but impeccable and ditto other ‘non-white’ Papua New Guinean judges, nevertheless, in my close observations of the courts lately, I have seen some extraordinarily illogical decisions handed down by some and have remarked on them
See http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/26/political-shenanigans-in-png-could-the-chief-justice-be-involved/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/19/is-the-judiciary-overstepping-its-jurisdiction-the-damaru-case/   http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/30/the-png-judiciary-the-power-and-the-glory-part-two/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/29/the-reformation-of-the-court-system-in-papua-new-guinea/

Yet Seccombe tells us:

Others spoken to for this story say likewise: the government might be crook but not the courts.

Another of Seccombe’s immpeccable sources: “Others spoken to.”

With all this in mind, does this give Seccombe the qualification to gratuitously call the government of Papua New Guinea variably, corrupt, crook and greedy?

My advice, #takebackpng# – start listening to people who are talking to you – not those talking to the vested interests (that aren’t yours).

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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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Twivey and Sakora arrested: Justice scorned

By PNG Echo

Tiffany Twivey-manhandled
Twivey, Manhandled

The accosting and arrest of lawyer, Tiffany Twivey, at Jacksons Airport, yesterday, is a considerable blight on every law enforcement officer in Papua New Guinea by association with senior but rogue police officers, Damaru and Gitua and the Machiavellian, Sam Koim.

When around 10 plain-clothes police started shouting aggressively at Twivey after she’d exited the arrivals hall of Jacksons Airport, she had no idea why they were shouting for her to get into their car.

Twivey’s 85-year-old mother, frail and fragile, was travelling with her and she was confused, upset and frightened as she watched her daughter being manhandled into the car. But the police were determined not to let an old lady’s distress distract them from their zeal and would not let Twivey go back to speak with her mother.

…they were shouting, “get into the car – get into the car” aggressively

said Twivey.

It was only good fortune that Twivey’s driver was there to rescue her frail, confused and frightened mother – for Christian decency was not the order of the day with the police officers.

Twivey is a lawyer, she knows her rights and when she asked why the police wanted her to come with them, as she was not under arrest – the police officer replied that she was although ABC Australia was informed that she wasn’t.

…they were grabbing my arms and trying to shove me into the car – and I have bruises,

she said.

So what were Twivey’s sins that she was arrested and manhandled in this ignominious fashion?

Sam Koim - has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he'd rather avoid.
Sam Koim – has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he’d rather avoid.

It’s simple, her client is the Prime Minister and he has been targeted by anti-government forces led by police officers Damaru and Gitua, spearheaded by the former head of Task Force Sweep. – the anti-corruption fighter that has some of his own explaining to do, Sam Koim.

And explaining he would have been:

I was to cross examine Sam Koim and examine McRonald Nale on the source of the private funding of the policemen and Sam Koim for the past two years,

wrote Ms Twivey in a statement.

She says that the timing is not lost on her, for instead of appearing in the National Court on behalf of the Prime Minister – with Koim uncomfortably on the stand under her cross examination, today she will be required to appear in the District Court defending herself.

Koim should be breathing a sigh of relief, it would take considerable arrogance to deliberately lie on the stand, wouldn’t it?  Within the next few hours we would have known who has been behind all of these vexatious arrests – who’d been bankrolling the zealotry.  Serendipity or a deliberate ploy?

For as Twivey asked:

Why couldn’t they come to my office? I’ve been in the same office for 5 years/ same apartment?

Ms Twivey was also at pains to point out that when Justice Kirriwom referred her and lawyer Sam Bonner to the Law Society, he did so on an incorrect premise of which  Damaru and Gitua were well aware.  It seems that this was what the arrest was all about.

These policemen did not object or make any submissions against my appeal In the Supreme Court against referral to the Law Society as they knew Kirriwom J had got the facts wrong, and yet they now initiate a criminal process,

she asks, incredulously?

Justice Bernard Sakora whose sin seems to be deciding in favour of the PM
Justice Bernard Sakora whose sin seems to be deciding in favour of the PM

Which brings me to Justice Bernard Sakora, why was he, at this very point in time, being arrested for something that allegedly occurred in 2009 and which the likes of Task Force Sweep, under the guidance of Sam Koim, had known about for 6 years? What took them so long?

Well there IS that timing thing again that Ms Twivey remarked upon…and it’s no surprise that driving the arrest were police officers Damaru and Gitua.

How many such cases has Task Force Sweep been keeping to themselves and for how many years…and why? To what avail?

Sakora is alleged to have taken a bribe from lawyer under investigation, Paul Paraka.  Although the alleged bribe has been explained by Justice Sakora as the sale of a car, the explanation is not good enough for Damaru who alleges that Sakora should have declared the transaction when he presided over cases they were involved in.

However, as in Twivey’s case, he did not raise any objection in court, which would have been the appropriate time.

One commentator believes that this could be a thinly-veiled attempt to get Sakora off the bench – just as the motive for the Prime Minister’s arrest seems to be to get him to step down. Sakora has found for the Prime Minister lately, which is likely, his sin.

Someone suggested to me that this could be viewed as an ominous ‘warning’ to others not to cross them (Damaru, Koim Gitua) – be they lawyers, politicians or judges.

I wonder how much ‘dirt’ the files of Task Force Sweep contain, on whom and when these will see the light of day? It’s all in the timing, I guess.

What do you call a nation/state controlled by corrupt zealots and rogues who are answerable to no one and whose tools include vexatious arrest and blackmail? Just asking.

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Zealots, diplomats and breakfast: Koim, Tonge and cornflakes

Sam Koim, former head of an Anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, fraternising with British High Commissioner Simon Tong at Breakfast, Grand papua hotel this morning.
Sam Koim, former head of an Anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, fraternising with British High Commissioner Simon Tonge at Breakfast, Grand Papua hotel this morning.

This picture of Sam Koim, the head of the now, in dispute, anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, having a protracted breakfast meeting this morning at the Grand Papua Hotel with the British High Commissioner, has too many sinister connotations to ignore.

As things stand, with the issue of the legitimacy of Task Force Sweep still legally in dispute –Sam Koim is now answerable to no one. He is a loose cannon.

Is this disgruntled, former employee (?) keen to have his revenge on the system that rejected him – even if that involves sedition and/or treason?

Diplomacy

One of the roles of the foreign diplomat is to foster friendly relations with the sovereign government by whose invitation they are in the country. Sam Koim is in a bitter court battle with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and other senior ministers and public servants – in fact the whole NEC – so, the question that this begs is why this senior diplomat, the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, would not recognise that this fraternisation could seriously affect cordial relations between the two governments?

That the British High Commissioner wouldn’t be aware of the perception of his actions is drawing too long a bow.  After all, it is his job to know.  But are the stakes higher than this – after all

A diplomat is someone who is appointed by a nation state to represent and protect that nation’s interests abroad.”

Nowhere is it stated, nor is it expected, that a diplomat has anything other his own country’s interests at heart – so what use is the petulant, former government employee (disputed) Sam Koim to him and British interests?

Coercive diplomacy

The Guardian newspaper in an editorial quoted the words of Charles Crawford, a former British ambassador to Sarajevo and Warsaw, who said:

Diplomats, spies and journalists are all basically nosy people. They all want to find out things that are not generally known. What distinguishes them in practice is the methods used. When it steps into impropriety and illegality you can just feel it.

The question is: would this meeting of Koim and the British High Commissioner foster such a feeling?

The Guardian goes on to say:

Approaching foreign nationals and asking them to work for your government is generally agreed to lie in the realm of espionage.

The possibility is ever-present in the diplomatic realm.  It was wikileaks and whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden that alerted the wider public to what the cognoscenti already knew – that the diplomat walks a fine line that often descends into espionage – as in evidence by the number of diplomats, worldwide, who have been expelled and rendered as Persona Non Grata because of it.

For it is the job of the diplomat to gather intelligence to aid his country’s negotiations with his host nation, a line is crossed when intelligence gathering lapses into espionage: when information was gathered quasi-illegally in order for it to be used for hostile purposes.  Many have crossed that line and continue to do so.

As for Sam Koim, he has seriously breached national diplomatic protocol when he appeared, in Australia, on a national current affairs program, being in Australia ostensibly to obtain Australian governmental backing for his quest against the mandated government (a claim he denies – see http://www.pngecho.com/2014/06/24/koim-politically-incorrect/ )

And this is not the only overseas trip he has taken – always paid by the foreign entity itself, according to Koim. To my knowledge he has accepted paid trips to the US, Britain and Australia (are there any I’ve left out?)

So what was discussed at this long breakfast meeting (2 hours)?  Were secrets revealed either purposely or inadvertently? What schemes were hatched and to whose benefit?  Was the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea breached over the bacon and eggs (and who paid for breakfast?)

 

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Gentle man, Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

By PNG Echo

Peter+O'NeillThis writer is often accused of “bias” towards the current government generally, and its head, Peter O’Neill, particularly.

There is no bias, just a considered opinion – between the two, there is a vast difference.  Here’s where my reflections led me and how I got there.

Criticism and defence.

Firstly, I am not uncritical of the O’Neill government.  For instance, I don’t think the Prime Minister is paying nearly enough attention to eradicating violence against women. I have added my voice to this issue and will continue to do so. However, it is not this issue that has drawn the most criticism of him.

When we believed there was hope. Before the disappointment set in: Women celebrating the 22 reserved seats that did not eventuate. Shame on you MPs.
When we believed there was hope. Before the disappointment set in: Women celebrating the 22 reserved seats that did not eventuate. Shame on you MPs.

More remarked upon is the PMs alleged corruption. During his tenure as Prime Minister, O’Neill has been dogged by rogue members of an undisciplined police force on a witch-hunt started by a government agency (TFS – who has been accused of being politically compromised) that firstly exonerated him and then changed its mind when it looked like the agency would not be recommissioned.

Paul Paraka - PM implicated in his alleged fraud
Paul Paraka – PM implicated in his alleged fraud

Under the circumstances, that his detractors are expecting the Prime Minister to be subdued and vanquished without a fight is surprising, especially since the prosecution of this case is little more than a blatant attempt to usurp the position of Prime Minister and thrust the nation into turmoil.

Not to submit to vexatious litigation with those sorts of consequences is not an immoral act, but rather, a virtue.

Remember, never has the Prime Minister stepped outside the law in his own defence. Yet, the people who oppose him are very happy to do so – to act ultra vires with scant regard for the consequences.

While the Prime Minister’s detractors are happy to bring down the system to effect their witch hunt, the Prime Minister is acting responsibly, upholding the idea of a liberal democracy and the rule of law – as one would expect of a Prime Minister.

The UBS loan was controversial
The UBS loan was controversial

Then there is the handling of the economy: it is so easy to make hay while the sun shines- but PNG is a resource-based economy and the sun isn’t shining on this sector globally. This government has not had a broad-range of alternatives with which to work and they have made their choices – choices that have been severely criticized.

However, it is only in retrospect – with 20/20 hindsight – that it will become apparent whether the choices have been wise ones.

Would another government have made different choices? Maybe. But the upshot is that they would have still had the same unfavourable context in which to operate, the same inherited conditions – many of which forced the hand of this government and would have done the same to any other.

One can predict all one likes but economics and the market do not always act predictably.

The Wasa Bridge - a dubious contract award involving Opposition Leader, Don Polye
The Wasa Bridge – a dubiously awarded contract award involving Opposition Leader, Don Polye.

On other matters: some criticisms, like the awarding of inflated government contracts to inappropriate contractors, are as old as the nation itself and the practises are steeped in PNG traditional custom. This is not a new invention by the O’Neill government.

My point: The issues for which the Prime Minister has gained the most severe criticism – down to criminal accusations, have all been those that involve money – alleged sins against property.

A gentle man of politics
A gentle man of politics

Never once has O’Neill been accused of brutality against his people.  

It is why I am perturbed when people in the social media compare him to leaders such as Idi Amin, Hitler and Ferdinand Marcos.

All these leaders were brutal murders.

Amin murdered an estimated 500,000. He was known as the ‘Butcher of Uganda’. From the military, he was an ambitious soldier, whose arsenal included the frequent use of torture.

Indeed, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines employed 88 government torturers to help maintain his dictatorship under martial law.

Hitler committed genocide – arguably the most heinous of crimes against humanity as he sought to obliterate the Jews off the face of the earth. However, I believe that he was a dab hand at handling the German economy –

These men resemble O’Neill NOT AT ALL:

The abovementioned heads of the murderous regimes all maintained power and control by acting extra-legally – just as those opposing the Prime Minister are trying to do – NOT the Prime Minister.

They breached the wall and the pigs ran in…

I am persuaded by this
I am persuaded by this

Papua New Guinea has a Prime Minister who respects the rule of law and is a gentle man – this cannot be said of many of his opponents.

While the government now, as in the past, has often affected lives negatively by omission, with this government it has never been, and I believe never will be, by commission. It’s a decent basis for a country with, admittedly, a long way to go.

I am most persuaded by this.

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