PNG TASK FORCE SWEEP: WE ARE NOT A POLITICAL TOOL

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Chairman says it won’t investigate politically motivated charges

By Todagia Kelola PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 10, 2012) - Politicians from both camps of the Government should refrain from using Task Force Sweep as part of their scape-goat and ammunitions to shoot each other so as to strengthen their legitimacy and discredit the other.

That’s from the Investigative Task Force Sweep Chairman Sam Koim following media reports of both camps using the team as an issue in their media fight.

Mr Koim said recently a press release by Minister for Planning, Sam Basil, alleging that the Grand Chief and his staff & others used more than 3.8million kina [US$1.8 million] to fund his hospital in Singapore. He said he referred the list of names and the information to Taskforce Sweep to immediately investigate. A day later, Belden Namah, Deputy Prime Minister in the O’Neill-Namah regime further came out on the issue and stated that those who are involved would be investigated and prosecuted.

The Somare regime, led by the Grand Chief, while inviting the investigations, accused the Government of setting up Task Force Sweep as a political tool to witch hunt certain political foes.

Mr Koim while confirming receipt of the allegations said: "We don’t take actions immediately upon receiving it. "We do not commence an investigation immediately. My team is comprised of well-trained professional public servant including lawyers, accountants, auditors, fraud detectives, engineers-valuators and others who sit down and assess every case so as to ascertain whether the case is criminal, leadership and administrative in nature before taking an action."

"We have invited all Papua New Guineans through the media to assist us by providing us with any information relating to any corrupt practice in public organisations. Many people have come forward and provided us with such information, including the recent one concerning the Grand Chief’s medical expenses, albeit being from the O’Neill-Namah Team.

I expect any thinking Papua New Guineans including members of both the O’Neill-Namah and Somare-Agiru teams to help us with the investigations by providing information that is within their knowledge. Every case will be given the same treatment."

"I do not wish to be dragged into the ongoing political battle, nor do I want Task-Force Sweep to be dragged into it. All the members of my team including myself have never been a ‘brief case carrier’ for any minister-member nor are we members of any political party.

"We are serving public servants, who were given the onus to fight corruption by the Government of the day and which we have been doing and that is what we will do" he said.

He added that the political will to fight corruption has been lacking and now that it has been committed, they’ve seized it wholeheartedly otherwise they are empowered by the respective laws to do.

"Only time and the merits of our work will tell whether we are a political tool by the O’Neil-Namah Government," he concluded.

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