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By Sheila Lasibori

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 5) - A member of the Papua New Guinea Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department has been named as one of the 17 recipients of a fraudulent payment of more than PGK4.2 million [US$1.5 million] paid in 2000, which the inquiry is investigating.

Another Finance Department official also attached to the inquiry was involved in the processing of the claim, raising credibility questions about the whole inquiry.

In East New Britain, a Jimmy Kendi was found guilty of false pretence and misappropriation in connection with the payment of PGK4,298,037.33 [US$1.5 million] belonging to the State.

He is awaiting sentencing.

The inquiry was told on Tuesday that Ambrose Vakinap was named in a 61-page National Court ruling last year as a recipient of PGK183,000 [US$64,000] from the PGK4,298,037.33 that was paid to Kendi on November 11, 2000, under the account of Bakanovi Transport, a registered company belonging to Jimmy Kendi and wife Norma Kendi.

As secretary to the inquiry, Vakinap was paid PGK169,600 last Dec 16 well before the inquiry commenced its hearing.

Vakinap reportedly resigned from the office of the Commission of Inquiry two weeks ago. However, this could not be verified.

Vakinap and Ben Pokanau were suspended and charged by former Finance Secretary Thaddeus Kambanei in connection with this payment.

Pokanau is also attached to the inquiry.

His name also appeared in a list of people, who received payments in connection with work for the commission of inquiry.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Sarea Soi read out the 17 names including that of Vakinap.

"The proceeds of this check (PGK4.2million) were used to pay people who may have facilitated the payment," Mr. Soi submitted.

Another recipient is the current registrar of the National Gaming Board Thomas Ningiga. He received more than PGK149,000.

Other recipients include Michael Keni (Jimmy Kendi’s brother), PGK250,000; Nelson Wahune (PGK117,000); Christopher Ningis (Hanks Management) PGK420,000; Philip Polewara (PGK20,000); Frank Pomoso (PGK5,000); David Nelson (PGK12,000); and Jason Naris (PGK102,000).

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