PNG Auditor-General Suspends High-Level Personnel

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Former AG says reasons for recent actions ‘shallow’

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 14, 2014) – Papua New Guinea’s Office of the Auditor-General has been thrown into chaos after two of its deputy auditors-general and a senior officer were suspended and a third deputy auditor-general sacked.

The auditor-general is in charge of all public accounts in the country and the four officers have between them up to 100 years of experience.

Deputy auditors-general Thomas Holland and Peter Siperau and senior officer Gabriel Koh were suspended on Thursday following the termination of a third auditor-general, Albert Monave, about five months ago.

Auditor-General Philip Nauga’s suspension letters were given to the three officers on Thursday, citing offences that they were alleged to have committed.

He ordered them to return all office access cards, all official keys to files and offices, and all other files or papers related to the Office of the Auditor-General.

Nauga was not available when contacted for comment.

The four concerned officers met with former auditor-general George Sulliman over the weekend to discuss their next course of action.

"The reasons (for suspension and termination) are very shallow," Sulliman said.

"They were alleged to have been involved in newspaper articles in early 2012 in which some allegations were made against the attorney-general. We are now working out what to do next."

Sulliman said Monave’s removal, for example, was based on "vague" and "shaky charges." "We think there is a bigger motive in his (Nauga’s) actions. Maybe he doesn’t want to be challenged," he said.

Koh, Siperau and Monave said they were bewildered by Nauga’s actions.

"What is of concern, in my view, is that the Office of Auditor-General is the prime promoter of accountability and good governance," Koh said. "The person in charge is not demonstrating that. The status of this office has been driven right to the bottom."

Monave said his suspension and eventual termination was not right.

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