Former PNG Parliamentary Staff Jailed For Fraud

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‘Position of trust’ was sentencing factor

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, February 6, 2015) – Two former staff members of Parliament have been jailed for a total of seven years on fraud-related charges involving K150,000 [US$56,000] of public funds.

Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika sentenced former chief financial officer Charlie Aopi, 49, to four years and travel clerk Lepsen Newe to three years.

Sir Gibbs said two years would be deducted from each man’s terms if the full amount was paid within one year from yesterday. Sir Gibbs said Newe got a lesser sentence because there was no evidence that he had received any of the K150,000 [US$56,000].

He said Aopi had received K5000 [US$1,800] while the remaining K145,000 [US$54,000] was taken by former clerk Don Pandan.

In mitigation, Aopi and Newe said they were first offenders.

They expressed remorse and promised to pay restitution.

But Sir Gibbs said the aggravating factors were that both persons were in positions of trust. He said they signed the cheque which they were not supposed to at that time and deliberately placed their loyalty on the wrong man who had conspired with them to commit the crime.

Aopi and Newe were convicted last November on one count of conspiracy to fraudulently obtain K150,000 [US$56,000] from the State, two counts of forgery, one count of uttering and one count of dishonestly applying to their own use, and to the use of Pandan in 2012. Both men worked in Parliament and were signatories to several accounts, including the National Parliament Imprest Account which the K150,000 [US$56,000] cheque was cashed from.

Sir Gibbs said they knew that Pandan’s term of contract had expired but negotiated the payment of the cheque.


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