PNG MINISTER, LAWMAKER ACCUSED OF $1.7 MILLION FRAUD

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 8) - A Papua New Guinea government minister and a member of parliament have allegedly defrauded the State of about PGK5 million [US$1.7 million], money belonging to a mining township development project.

The K10 million [US$3.5 million], allocated from mining activities and tax, is believed to be for the development of the Balimo airport, fencing and renovation in the Western Province.

Documents obtained by the Post-Courier show the minister and the MP have allegedly misused about $US1.8 million (K5.5 million) belonging to a mining township airport development project.

The documents further show the two had colluded with other responsible authorities to award contracts for the airport development project to two companies (named) presently without offices in Port Moresby, but running various businesses back in their provinces.

The documents also show about K1.8 million had already been paid to these two companies for survey work.

Copies of checks made payable to these companies from Bank South Pacific are available to justify that the money had already been paid to these companies early last year in Port Moresby.

Authorities in Balimo and in Port Moresby (who are in charge of the project) told the Post-Courier when contacted, that only surveying had been done early last year. Apart from that, nothing had been done. The authorities said the money (already paid) should have been for surveying and actual development of the airport and fencing.

The next lot of payment is expected to be done at the height of the election, which is towards the end of this month.

An executive of the company who has a business outside of Balimo and is allegedly involved in the project, said nothing was fraudulently given to them.

He said they bid for the project and they would move into Balimo to start on the project next week.

"Everything is in line, nothing is fraudulent or wrong. We know we have the money there, but it’s all in the process as planned. We will move in next week when the MP nominates and goes into election," the executive said.

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