Former PNG Prime Minister Denies Bribery Allegations

Singapore court rules Somare got $784,000 from money laundering scam

By Gynnie Kero

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 5, 2016) – Former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has denied receiving inducements or bribes during his political career, after a Singapore court last week ruled that he got US$784,000 from a money laundering scam.

The court found a married couple in Singapore guilty of money laundering and subsequently named Sir Michael as a recipient of some funds. The couple laundered US$3.6 million which had been meant to set up community colleges in Papua New Guinea – then allegedly gave US$784,000 of it to Sir Michael.

Sir Michael in a statement to The National said: “I have taken steps to get clarification and legal advice on this matter but I would like to state from the outset that at no time in my political career have I received inducements or bribes.

“At first glance, these charges say otherwise. Therefore, during the next few days, I will consult with my family and legal counsel and consider how to address this matter.

“Nonetheless, I take this opportunity to apologise to the people of Papua New Guinea, my people of East Sepik and my family for the shame and embarrassment these reports may have caused.”

Singaporean Lim Ai Wah, 61, was jailed for five year last Thursday.

Her 68-year-old American husband Thomas Doehrman was sentenced to five years and 10 months.

Doehrman had been the trustee of a fund set up by the PNG government to establish community colleges in the country.

In June 2010, the trust hired ZTE Corporation for US$35 million to supply telecom equipment for the project. The court heard that the couple conspired with a ZTE employee Li Weiming, 34, for the company to pay a secret “commission” to them.

Urging district judge Ng Peng Hong to impose stiff sentences, Deputy Public Prosecutor Alan Loh said the fact that some of the laundered money was traced to then PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael’s bank account in Singapore will cause public disquiet.

The National
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