TWO PNG OFFICIALS FACE TRIAL IN $986,000 SWINDLE

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Case involves Deloitte Tower and National Provident Fund

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 27, 2008) - The Papua New Guinea government is ready to prosecute two key figures allegedly involved in the swindling of more than PGK2 million [US$744,000] belonging to the National Provident Fund (NPF), predecessor of Nasfund

But the hearing may begin next week. A judge is yet to be assigned by the Chief Justice to preside over the case.

It is envisaged that the trial will run for a month or two to complete.

The case involves the Deloitte Tower deal.

The two accused, Jimmy Maladina and Herman Leahy, who were chairman and corporate secretary and principal lawyer of NPF respectively at that time, were alleged to have conspired with a Japanese construction company and allegedly swindled more than PGK2.65 million [US$986,000] belonging to the fund.

Mr. Maladina was indicted by the Committal Court to stand trial in the National Court while Mr Leahy was indicted by the Public Prosecutor. Yesterday all parties in the matter appeared before Justice Panuel Mogish for mention in which Maladina’s lawyer, Australian QC John Griffin told the court that a suggestion by the prosecution to prosecute both matters, State vs Herman Leahy and State vs Jimmy Maladina together will be opposed by his client when the trial starts.

He envisaged that by next week the defendants should be ready.

Although the accused did not indicate how long it will take for them to present their case the state indicated that they are looking at two weeks to complete theirs. Prosecutor Camillus Sambua, assisted by Peter Kelly, called for the two men to be dealt with together, saying the facts derived from the same events.

Justice Mogish told the parties that he will be asking the Chief Justice this week to assign a judge to preside over the matter and he will inform them at the end of this week.

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