PNG LAWMAKER GOT LOAN WITH HEFTY BANK ACCOUNT

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By Moresi Ruahmaa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 1) - The Papua New Guinea Leadership Tribunal yesterday heard that suspended Usino-Bundi Member of Parliament Peter Yama had substantial deposits at the Maybank in Port Moresby that qualified him to secure a K140,000 (US$43,600) loan to purchase a coastal passenger vessel.

Yama’s wife, identified as Mary Simoi, obtained the loan against a K250,000 (US$77,800) deposit in the bank.

Apart from this, the tribunal also heard that Mr Yama had about K1 million (US$311,500) in his IBD bank account with Maybank with which he secured a loan in 1994 to purchase the unidentified vessel.

Mrs Hahui Fairi, a witness giving evidence yesterday and employed by Maybank as the credits and bills officer, told the tribunal that initially an application for a loan was made by Mr Yama.

However, later his wife made a separate application and secured the loan of K140,000 against a bank deposit of K250,000 held under the name of Madang Taxi Hire.

Against this backdrop, Mr Yama’s counsel Ben Lomai told the tribunal that his client did not use his power to influence the bank to grant him the loan.

"That bank was not influenced by Mr Yama in anyway," said Mr Lomai.

The tribunal also heard that former Works and Transport Department Secretary Micky Tamarua may have possibly forged a check to get a refund of K150,000 from a motor dealer company.

The money was part of Rural Transport Development programme allocated to Mr Yama, then Member for Sumkar, for road projects in his electorate in between 1993 and 1996.

The tribunal heard that in 1996 Mr Yama was allocated K1.8 million for projects under the Rural Transport Development programme and part of this money was used to purchase vehicles from Ela Motors for his electorate.

Former Transport Department chief internal auditor Margaret Galama, told the tribunal yesterday that someone allegedly got a refund of the unused monies from the Ela Motors.

Asked, she identified Mr Tamarua as one who could have secured the refund by "forging" Mr Yama's signature.

Mrs Galama, who is now being employed by the Auditor-General's Office as administrative manager, also told the tribunal on its second day of hearing that in 1993 and 1996 funds were allocated for road projects under the programme to the leader.

Similarly in 1993, the funds were allocated to the leader as usual for Bagbag road projects on Karkar Island in Madang but were not used for the intended purposes.

The tribunal, however, heard that the leader did not deal directly with the funds, which went to the Provincial Affairs Department after the Department of Works and Transport had released the check.

September 2, 2004

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