admin's picture

Government officials seek to end probe of missing $101 million

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 18, 2008) – The decision by the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department will be judicially reviewed by the National Court.

The National Court yesterday granted leave to three men – former Solicitor-General Zachary Gelu, former Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari and former provincial administrator Tau Liu – who wanted the courts to declare the Commission of Inquiry unconstitutional, invalid and of no effect for breach of the Constitution.

[PIR editor’s note: The Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate the disappearance of more than PGK270 million [US$101 million] in public funds from the Finance Department between January 2000 and July 2006.]

Justice David Cannings who presided over the matter in an 11-page decision held that all grounds proposed by the applicants except for one ground disclosed an arguable case and that leave was granted for the eight grounds to be reviewed.

In his judgment he said the respondents, the Prime Minister and the Commission of Inquiry represented by senior Australian counsel Ian Molloy, had raised three contentious issues during the leave application hearing in which he asked the court to determine; whether the applicants were guilty of undue and unjustifiable delay; whether the grounds of review that raised constitutional questions were properly before the National Court; and whether there was an arguable case.

Justice Cannings ruled that firstly the applicants were not guilty of undue and unjustifiable delay as they started the proceedings within a reasonable time after being summoned to appear before the inquiry. Secondly, all grounds except for ground three disclosed an arguable case and thirdly other grounds of review that raise constitutional issues were properly before the National Court, except for ground three which sought a declaration that the Commissions of Inquiry Act is unconstitutional and that it is not properly before the National Court.

He granted leave for all the eight grounds proposed except one which was struck out.

The matter has been adjourned to today for the stay application to be argued.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment