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PM O’Neill: No Order To Deport Lawyer From PNG
Reiterates Sheppard has ‘duty’ to report trust fund monies

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 18, 2012) – There is no deportation order to remove prominent lawyer Greg Sheppard from Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday.

However, he said he was aware that there was a search warrant and an investigation under way into the management and disbursement of tens of millions of kina in a trust fund held by Sheppard’s Young and Williams Lawyers.

The prime minister said Sheppard had a fiduciary duty to reconcile for some K100 million [US$47.9 million] with which he was entrusted.

He said so far no report of any kind had been forthcoming and until that happened, investigations would continue.

In response Sheppard yesterday said: "I know there is no deportation order but they tried to deport me nonetheless."

He produced a copy of a letter purportedly written by Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura on Nov 18, instructing all airlines flying into PNG to ban uplifting into PNG of Greg James Sheppard.

The letter reads in part: "This serves to advise all international operating airlines that Mr. Gregory James Sheppard, an Australian national, is banned from entering PNG and that he is not to be uplifted into the country."

No reason was given for the advice.

Sheppard said that his firm had received K50 million [US$23.9 million] as lawyers for a trust account held under the name Inclusive Education for National Development for Community Trust.

"I couldn’t agree more with him (prime minister). If such a serious step as deportation is intended, the basis of the deportation should be known and stated with certainty. If there is an investigation into my trust account, I should be here in PNG to assist with that investigation and answer any questions that may arise, not deported without due process out of the jurisdiction.

"I do not know of any investigation into my trust account. This trust account, which incidentally is professionally managed by a certified practicing accountant and audited every year under the Lawyers Act, is also audited and cleared by an international auditing firm. I have not received any complaint into my trust account, and the government itself has never made any request for information.

"Until very recently the only correspondence I received concerning this fund was from an adviser named Dominic Diya in the Prime Minister’s Office who demanded large payments to himself from the fund."

He said details of every transaction was available and would be made available when an authorized request was made for it.

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