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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 5) - Kairuku Hiri Member of Parliament and former Papua New Guinea deputy Prime Minister Sir Moi Avei has been found guilty of five out of nine misconduct charges.

A leadership tribunal’s unanimous decision was handed down in Port Moresby yesterday by chairman Justice Timothy Hinchliffe. The other members of the tribunal were senior magistrates Samuel Abisai and Mark Pupaka.

Sir Moi was present to receive the decision at the Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium, which was packed to capacity.

The tribunal found Sir Moi guilty on counts one, three, four, six, and seven. The tribunal found the leader:

The leader, having been allocated an amount of PGK250,000 [US$88,200] in district support grant (DSG) from the National Government in the form of three checks, deposited the money into an account titled "Moi Avei’s Discretionary Funds" account No. 968-38670974 held at the BSP Waigani branch. The tribunal established that he had failed to ensure those monies were properly applied to the rural infrastructure projects it had been allocated for.

A substantial part of that money was converted to his personal and his associates’ use where he made about 59 unverifiable check payments of PGK79,397 [US$28,000].

He further made about 37 unverifiable improper cash check transactions of PGK71,910.

The tribunal noted the bulk of the disbursements were for relatively small amounts where most of the individual payments were for PGK1,000 or less and the rest under PGK3,000.

Apart from one check for PGK10,542, there were only a handful of checks for sums ranging from PGK4,000 to PGK6,000, but mainly for PGK5,000, the tribunal said.

The first DSG check for PGK100,000 [US$35,000] dated January 24, 2002 was banked on January 25, 2002. Bank records showed five withdrawals were made between January 29 and 31, 2002.

The second lot of DSGs, in two checks dated March 6 and 20, for PGK50,000 and PGK100,000 respectively, was banked on April 2, 2002.

Withdrawals were made almost immediately and bank records showed most of the PGK150,000 was drawn down by May 21, 2002, through more than 95 separate withdrawals, the tribunal said.

"These types of disbursements obviously cannot easily or at all be categorized into any of the infrastructure development objectives of the guidelines.

" Most of the leader’s disbursements were for the benefit of individuals or family units only and not for the whole village or district, which is contrary to the requirements of the DSG guidelines," the tribunal said.

The tribunal will resume on April 24 to allow three witnesses to give evidence before it hears submissions on penalty from the defense and prosecuting counsels.

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