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Department of Planning at center of probe

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 15, 2011) – Private lawyer Philemon Korowi says a full-scale commission of inquiry will reveal money trails of politicians and senior public servants who received kick-backs of millions of kina paid out by the Department of National Planning and Monitoring Department.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme and National courts in Waigani, he says: "As an internal assessment of funds being discharged to date, Mr Lelang established that there are certain payments made to companies, which from company records at the Investment Promotion Authority, link the payments and companies to senior officers in the Department of National Planning.

"Further check with the bank records as to the signatories to these company accounts will not only show the actual name(s) of person(s) behind these front companies, but will also show bank transactions of payments to certain individuals and politicians."

"At present, the National Fraud Squad has obtained warrants and is now in discussions with the banks and pulling bank records. These accounts will then be frozen and once criminally prosecuted, assets and funds will be re-possessed by the State through the Proceeds of Crime Act," the affidavit said.

Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie on Wednesday directed his officers to set up an investigation team to probe alleged fraud of PGK1.9 million [US$832,000]

and that team was set up by the Director of Crimes Superintendent Donald Yamasombi.

And in an interesting twist of events, Mr Tiensten yesterday said the government would move to recover more than K700,000 paid to Mr Korowi as legal fees because the money was paid out of the development budget instead of the normal administration funds.

Meanwhile, the president of the PNG Trade Union Congress – the largest union movement in PNG – Michael Malabag called on Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to sack Mr Tiensten from Cabinet over the disbursements of public funds to senior department and ministerial staff supposedly for projects in the provinces.

And during a visit to the a Gulf Province this week, Works Minister Peter O’Neill called for a Commission of Inquiry to be set up to probe the alleged K1.9 billion.

A BUSINESSMAN has def-ended the Government and Minister for National Planning Paul Tiensten over the K10 million payout to controversial Kokopo businessman Eremas Wartoto as subsidy for his airline company.

Dickson Ango, director of Vision Communication, a small nationally owned telecommunications company, said there was nothing wrong with the K10 million payout to Mr Wartoto when it was budgeted for and was given as a form of subsidy.

Mr Ango said it was very difficult for small businesses to venture into big business.

He said the Government has shown faith in local entrepreneurs by awarding such payments as subsidy to help grow their business.

He said this also gives the local businessman the confidence to deliver and look ahead in running their companies.

"I believe me and other small businessman can say our experience of struggling to secure funding to venture into business that are mostly foreign operated," he said.

"We have no one to run to and seek help and I think it is a good idea that the Government has come to intervene through this case of Mr Wartoto in providing subsidy funding."

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