PNG Taskforce Records $953.8 Million In Complaints
By Todagia Kelola
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 20, 2012) – Complaints of fraud, misappropriation and theft of public monies registered with the Investigation Task Force Sweep has so far reached a monetary value of a whopping K2 billion [US$953.8 million] and the amount is still climbing as more complaints are being registered with the team.
The Sweep Team has received 174 complaints and have so far undertaken 52 investigations.
Eighteen cases have been committed to the National Court. Those indicted and are attending their cases at the National Court include politicians, senior government officers and businessmen. Twenty-three cases are still at the committal stage at the District Courts, whilst six cases have been struck out by a District Court. The team is referring the files to the Public Prosecutor to consider and possibly file ex-officio indictments. A full list of the cases initiated by the team has been listed in a paid advertisement in today’s paper.
A number of leaders covered under the Leadership Code were also implicated for breach of the Leadership Code. Those leaders were referred to the Ombudsman Commission to conduct its own investigations.
Through tax recovery, a total amount of K59,468,575 [US$28.4 million] has been recouped so far. Of that amount, K2,934,311.69 [US$1.4 million] had already been paid to Internal Revenue commission while the others are still going through the objection and assessment process.
Most of the cases registered with the team seem to involve companies doing businesses with the Government and receiving so much public money, yet not being registered with IRC for tax purposes.
The team has reasons to contend that each of these cases underscore serious flaws in the detection of tax crimes, including tax evasions.
For recovery proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2005, an amount of K1.3 million [US$619,995] cash was restrained in one case.
In another case, a K7 million [US$3.3 million] restraining order (cash and assets) was obtained and properties have been identified both within PNG and overseas to satisfy the judgment debt.
The total value of the restraining orders stands at K8.3 million [US$4 million]. There are many other cases that have been identified and proceedings will be instituted soon.
The controversial K125 million [US$59.6 million] Sovereign Community Infrastructure Treasury Bills (SCITB) for Kokopo development projects was also included in the team’s initial terms of reference.
The investigations are continuing suffice and K55 million [US$26.2 million] being held at the National Capital Limited’s bank accounts had been frozen by the Bank of Papua New Guinea.
It is the considered position of the State that the SCITB arrangement is illegal, hence the State cannot honor any obligations under the terms of the purported agreement.
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