PNG'S SINGIROK ACCUSED OF RECEIVING BRITISH FUNDS

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CANBERRA (July 14, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Former Papua New Guinea Defense Force commander Jerry Singirok, who blocked the PNG Sandline mercenary contract to fight Bougainville rebels, has been receiving funds from a rival British arms dealer, J & S Franklin, for more than a year, according to a report in the Weekend Australian.

The report from the newspaper's South Pacific correspondent, Mary-Louise O'Callaghan, said the money had been paid into a secret London bank account.

Singirok is said to have admitted the account existed, after the Weekend Australian obtained copies of bank statements showing a total of about US$52,000 had been deposited into the account since April of last year. The statements showed the account had been used in conjunction with a Visa card for cash advances, payment of hotel bills, airline tickets, and a Singapore tailor.

Sacked in March as commander of the PNG Defense Force, after leading a revolt against the use of Sandline mercenaries, the former commander has now lost his commission and been dismissed from the army. He has denied to the newspaper any impropriety, claiming the payments were the result of his personal friendship with Sidney Franklin, founder of the arms firm.

"As commander of the PNGDF, I have not ordered any equipment from J & S Franklin. The relationship is a personal relationship of friendship with Sidney Franklin, who has sold equipment to PNG for the past 10 years," Singirok said.

The Weekend Australian says Singirok's admission appears to contradict evidence given under oath to the Sandline Commission of Inquiry in April, during which he denied that he had been offered any "benefit" by Franklin.

 

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