PNG FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICE MUM ON MISSING $688,000

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 3) - The Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Department is missing six checks worth more than PGK2 million [US$688,000] - money collected from large mining companies operating in the country for business visas and other fees.

In 2004, six checks, paid out in hundreds of thousands (PGK500,000 [US$172,000]; PGK400,000 [US$137,000]; PGK100,000 [US$34,000]; PGK180,000 [US$62,000]; PGK280,000 [US$96,000]; PGK200,000 [US$69,000]) went missing between 2004 and 2005.

The Post-Courier, still carrying out its own investigations into the affairs of Foreign Affairs "arrived" on the issue of the PGK6 million, money paid in bulk by major mining giants Placer Dome, Porgera, Ok Tedi and Lihir Mines for business and other vital material for their consultants and other mining executives carrying out business activities in their respective operations.

Seven names were submitted, all of them executive officials of Foreign Affairs’ and Immigration, to be questioned about the missing checks, but to date the Post-Courier has reliably been told some of these people have gone into hiding.

The Post-Courier asked Foreign Affairs and Immigration if it was true that more than PGK2 million paid in bulk by these mining companies was missing, but other offices within the department responsible denied having any knowledge of the matter, while the Immigration office advised that it was looking into that matter.

"…sorry I cannot confirm nor deny (anything) but I am aware money paid by mining companies in 2004 is under question at the moment," a Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

The office of the Foreign Affairs Secretary denied having any knowledge of this matter and would not comment.

The Post-Courier understands this matter is subjected to investigations.

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