The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 28) – Once again the indestructible Noah Musingku and his U-Vistract movement have made the headlines.

The Bougainville Administrator was "granted permission" to enter previously barred territory supposedly under the control of Musingku and his ragged bunch of oddly assorted guards and hangers-on.

[PIR editor’s note: Noah Musingku, whose "U-Vistract" pyramid scheme bilked millions of dollars out of investors, has long been a fugitive from the law in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.]

Suddenly we find Musingku and his supporters treated with kid gloves. The distinct impression is given that the official Bougainvillean party is in the area on sufferance, and that the failed U-Vistract promoter is a power to be reckoned with. The Bougainville Administrator is photographed with the fraudster, as an "honoured guest".

Mr Tsiamalili, one of the great survivors of the Bougainville civil war, is nothing of the kind. He is an official who has every right to be in the area, and he is responsible for making sure that through him, the autonomous Bougainville and residual PNG Government regulations are enforced by the appropriate agencies.

A warrant for the arrest of Musingku remains to be acted upon.

It was prepared long ago; as far as we are aware, it remains current.

Why then has this petty fantasist not been arrested and charged with defrauding thousands of Bougainvilleans and other Papua New Guineans of possibly millions of kina?

If it is possible for a delegation to visit this self-declared monarch in his cardboard cut-out kingdom, why is it not possible to execute that warrant?

It appears that Mr Tsiamalili held face-to-face talks with Mr Musingku, and even alluded to the need to repay the investors in U-Vistract [pyramid scheme].

The monarch replied that he was ready to repay his investors, and that everything was in place to do so.

No verifiable details of how this piece of financial wizardry might be accomplished appear to have been mentioned.

In the past, Musingku has even visited an Asian mint and asked it to produce a new currency for the "Kingdom of Papala".

Until very recently, and possibly even today, small investors have fallen victim to Musingku’s siren song, and continued to pump money into his coffers.

This stand-off between a financial poseur and governments, banks, police and legal authorities continues to make our country an international laughing stock.

And it is not a story that generates any sort of faith in our ability to manage our own domestic affairs.

Bluntly, Musingku appears to have everyone well and truly foxed. He appears able, on the evidence, to call all the shots.

These meetings are clearly on his terms, at sites chosen by him, under circumstances that he has engineered, and with agendas determined by him.

Mr Tsiamalili has said that his only interest in the situation is to perform the duties of Bougainvillean administrator.

"I am a public servant and not a politician," he is reported to have said.

We respect his remarks, and understand his reluctance to be drawn into the political aspects of this situation.

But at the same time, we fail to see how such a division can be made.

Musingku’s assumption of power, his pretensions to monarchy, his delineation of his own territory, his display of "troops", his possession of a building designated as a "palace", the headquarters of a "kingdom" – surely all of this posturing ensures that the administrative cannot be separated from the political, or for that matter, the military.

The facts are brutally simple.

Noah Musingku is a Papua New Guinean citizen, answerable to the laws of this country, and to the newer authority of the Bougainville government.

There can be little doubt that the creator of U-Vistract has a case to answer in our courts.

There is no doubt at all that the whole geographical unit that is PNG is peppered with individuals and families who have suffered silently for years at the hands of this unique fraudster.

If he has, as he once again claims, the means to repay those thousands of people, then let him reveal all the details to the public, and get on with the process of repayment.

And if he fails, then he should be immediately arrested and charged with fraud.

For one fact is undeniable: Noah Musingku has no right to hold this country and its people to international ridicule.

September 29, 2006

The National:

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