PNG Ombudsman Commission Refers PM To Prosecutor

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Commission alleges O’Neill engaged in misconduct

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 13, 2014) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been referred to the public prosecutor for alleged misconduct in office.

He was served a notice of referral by the Ombudsman Commission yesterday with the Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua confirming the service at 3pm yesterday.

No further details were given on the referral but he said an official statement will be released by the commission today.

The Office of the Prime Minister released a statement at 4.30pm yesterday confirming the referral but expressing disappointment in the manner it was done.

According to the statement, the referral was based on three allegations:

Claiming his referral was "sour grapes" by former ministers, Mr O’Neill said he was not given adequate time by the commission to respond before making the referral.

"This is a case of ‘sour grapes’ by former ministers who have been pushing this issue with the Ombudsman," the PM said.

"I will see to it that these claims are fully tested through the court system and if there has been undue interference in this process it will be exposed."

"This issue is already the subject of judicial review that was brought about by the former Treasurer, so I am surprised that the Ombudsman is going around the judicial process to refer this matter," the PM said.

"My only concern is that investors are not put-off by ongoing political attacks. PNG has a robust democracy and from time-to-time attempts are made to undermine the Government. But the Government remains politically strong with more than 90 members in the parliament and our results over the past three years in advancing the economy speak for themselves."

The public prosecutor will now study the charges to determine whether there is a prima facie case by the State against the PM and if he should make a request to the Chief Justice for a leadership tribunal to be established.

Mr O’Neill becomes the second PM to be referred while in office after veteran politician Sir Michael Somare, who was the PM when he was referred in late 2010 over his failure to submit annual returns dating back to 1996.

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