Friday, January 30, 2015

HB KILLINGS – AN OPPORTUNITY LOST?

By PAUL AMATIO

The killing of the two innocent men at Hanuabada last week seems to be losing momentum for the rest of the city except for the Motu Koitabuans and other relatives. I for one find it totally incomprehensible that the MKs decided against a citywide protest march. I assure you NCD would have come out and supported you. Why did you call it off?

We are aware of your cries for everything including compensation for your land, the lack of basic amenities and services in the village, the deteriorating state of infrastructure in the village and the poor support you get from everyone, especially those whom you yourselves have elected to represent your interests in public forums like Parliament and the MK Assembly.

This is an opportunity for you people to present and make certain concrete claims which must be addressed. It is unfortunate that it has taken the loss of two innocent lives to create this opportunity but it MUST be seen as an opportunity to right these wrongs which have been ignored for too long. Someone suggested moving HB outside the city. My question is WHY? This is their ancestral home. Most of the migrtion and establishment of other Motuan villages started from HB. So if HB looks like an eyesore, then fix the eyesore instead of transplanting it and hiding it.

Some key issues the MKs should be pushing for now include proper housing for the whole MK community in all traditional villages in NCD. Building of proper footpaths among the walkways in the village. Build a proper community clinic for the village funded by the NCDC, establishment of a police station so that law and order issues are handled in the community, ensure that water piping is done properly so that water is piped into individual homes (and if this cannot be done then install a water reticulation plant in the village to be managed by the LLG and have the villages taken off the main city water supply system), upgrade their sports fields opposite the roundabout so they have a proper sports and recreational area and other similar community benefit issues. This will at least compensate for the lack of monetary compensation for the land city sits on.

Let PNG remember that PNG owes the MKs for giving up their land so that we as a nation can have a capital city.

On a general note, I refer to Sam Koim’s commentary regarding the SOCIAL CONTRACT. Although we did agree to give up some of our rights vis-à-vis law enforcement to the State, we did not agree to be gunned down like animals on our own door steps. The concept of policing was developed in England and meant to be a system of policing the people for the people and by the people. Not by some nameless faceless aliens from another planet or country but people who are also signatories to that SOCIAL CONTRACT within our own country.

I suggest the leaders of Hanuabada get together again, rethink their whole strategy and push for the peaceful demonstration march against police brutality to take place under police supervision and in a peaceful and orderly manner. Publicise it widely in NCD and have it in Lae and other centres as well so that the government and the police department can actually ACT on this and make changes to the system we have so that policing is done in an orderly and peaceful manner for our benefit, not the benefit of a few. This is an issue that affects Papua New Guinea, not only NCD and definitely not only the Motu Koitaubuans. The longer you leave it, the cooler the fire will get until it will finally burn out. Keep the burning fire burning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

INSIGHT INTO STATE vs TIENSTEN, KAVO & POTAPE

By BRYAN KRAMER

Part 3.1 Comparison and Analysis of the three Cases


Paul Tiensten was convicted and sentenced to 9 years for the charge of misappropriation when he dishonestly applied K10m to Travel Air as seed capital when the funds were committed for rural airfreight subsidy. Tiensten filed an appeal in the Supreme Court which was eventually dismissed.
Tiensten's case was unique where his mere direction in his capacity as the Minister to the officers of Department of National Planning & Monitoring to facilitate the release of the K10m payment to Travel Air was sufficient to convict him.

Some readers believe the Courts erred in finding Tiensten guilty and raise a number of arguments in his defence such as:

1) It was never proven Tiensten benefited from the K10m proceeds.

2) The element of control of the property - in this case the K10m - was not with the Minister but with the Secretary who is the Section 32 Officer. A Section 32 Officer, as per the Finance Management Act, is the Head or Secretary of Department. They are under no legal obligation to comply with a Ministerial directive that is unlawful or is contrary to guidelines. Therefore, liability lies with the Acting Secretary of Department of National Planning & Monitoring and not Tiensten in his capacity as the Minister.

3) The decision to fund Travel Air has greatly assisted many people in the rural areas by providing cheaper airfares. Thus the end justifies the means.
The first issue is true, it was "not proven" Tiensten benefited from the K10m. But it doesn't mean he didn't. Until Travel Air is diligently audited we will not know for certain. Irrespective, if we allow people to go free on the grounds they didn't benefit from the proceeds of the crime, then in principle a bank teller could empty our personal savings by giving it to their wantoks or friends and argue that they did not personally benefit from it so they cannot be held accountable. This is why the law is clear that a person who dishonestly applies funds, whether to his own personal use or another, is still guilty of misappropriation.

An important point the Courts take into consideration, is that if people who seek to be elected into public office - benefiting from the perks and privileges that come with it - are found to abuse that office, they must expect to be punished more severely than an ordinary citizen. The Courts will always protect the public's interest to deter people in high positions of trust from abusing and manipulating the system to benefit themselves, their families or associates at the public's expense. Hence, the higher the office the greater the responsibility and accountability.

The second issue is also correct. Technically, Tiensten did not have lawful control over the funds which is a key element to establish a conviction of misappropriation. Section 32 of the Finance Management Act gives the power and lawful control over the Department funds to the Department officers, specifically the Secretary. The officers should have refused the directive from the Minister or at the least written to him to advise that the payment was improper. However, a key element in any criminal offence is "motive" or "criminal intent". Whose intent was it to facilitate the K10m payment to Travel Air, the officers or Tiensten? Was it his directive or theirs? The Court found there was evidence proving that the officers were put under duress from the Minister who used “political muscle” to facilitate the payment to Travel Air. Therefore it was his intent/directive not theirs. It's important to also note that the officers at the time were only ‘Acting’, and it can be argued they were concerned about being demoted or terminated had they refused to comply with the Minister's directive.

The third issue raises the question of whether the end justifies the means? Since the introduction of Travel Air, airfares are more affordable to many low income earners. However, Travel Air is a private company owned by Eremas Wartoto, so its primary objective is to make profits. It can be argued Wartoto was able to gain a competitive edge offering cheap airfares because he had already unlawfully secured a K10m windfall that belonged to the 7 million people of PNG. He should have applied for a commercial loan like other businesses instead of unlawfully benefiting from public money in the end making himself wealthier for it. A person saving K100 on an airline ticket does not justify the owner of the airline pocketing K10m of public funds in addition to the profits from his business.

Tiensten is also facing further charges for misappropriation as well as official corruption and stealing by false pretence. The charges relate to a K3.4 million grant to rehabilitate a Karlai copra plantation in his Electorate Pomio Open. It's alleged that a K3.4m cheque was made out to Nesu Investment Ltd, managers of the Karlai copra plantation, but was never paid to them. Between Nov 16 and 23, 2009, Tiensten allegedly issued directives to change the payee from Nesu Investment Ltd to his family company, of which he was a director. Around one-third of the money was then used to buy another plantation on the island. The case is awaiting trial in the National Court.

It’s alleged that Tiensten in his capacity as Minister of National Planning & Monitoring was also involved with awarding the Keravat High School Renovations (RESI) contract of K7.9 million to Wartoto's company in 2009. It's alleged the contract was awarded without calling for tenders and investigations revealed work was never completed to justify the government expenditure. Wartoto was charged by Task Force Sweep for misappropriation and is awaiting trial.

Task Force Sweep also arrested Wartoto on further charges that relate to over 7-million kina released from the Department of National Planning & Monitoring paid to company Metlik Plantation Ltd for the rehabilitation of the Metlik Plantation in Lombum in New Ireland province. It's alleged that no work was carried out. Another 6-million kina payout to Wilddog Plantations Ltd for the rehabilitation of the Lindenhafen coconut plantation in Gasmata in West New Britain province, failed to see any work done.

I will cover specific details and status of Wartoto's cases in forth coming articles.

Havilo Kavo, Governor of Gulf Province case
Kavo was charged and convicted for one count of misappropriation for dishonestly applying to his own use K131, 3338.00 of trust funds belonging to the State of PNG. Kavo claimed he had incurred K131, 338.00 as his outstanding entitlements from the Provincial Government. He moved and passed a resolution at the Gulf Provincial Assembly to approve that he be paid out from the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) K10m funds drawn from the Kutubu Oil Pipeline Trust Funds intended for impact projects in the Gulf Province and Kikori Landowners.

The National Court applying the law relating to the use of trust money was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Kavo had dishonestly applied money in the amount of K131, 338 belonging to the State and the Gulf Provincial Government for the benefit of himself and others (wife). He was found guilty of misappropriation and sentenced to three years imprisonment. The judge then suspended or reduced the sentence by half (1.5 years or 18 months) taking into account he had repaid the funds.

Kavo then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court and an urgent bail application to be released until his appeal is determined. His lawyer argued that the Trial Judge made a error in convicting Kavo when it was not conclusive that Kavo had acted dishonestly or intended to defraud the state when he paid himself K131, 338 which he believed he was entitled to and was never disputed by the State. The second factor was the likely delay in hearing Kavo's appeal. An appeal process can take anywhere from 8 months to two years, example, Tiensten was sentenced in March 2014 and the ruling of his appeal was handed down in December 2014 some 9 months later.

Chief Justice Salamo Injia (CJ), sitting as a single Supreme Court, granted Kavo bail on consideration of the special circumstances of his case. The CJ ruled would it be against the interest of justice to imprison a person who has as high chance of success in his appeal against his conviction and the likely delay in determining his appeal.

Other factors also to consider in Kavo's case that helped his cause for being granted bail was that unlike in the Francis Potape and Tiensten cases, the amounts and sentence was significantly less.

1) Paul Tiensten convicted of misappropriating K10m, sentence 9 years, funds never repaid.

2) Francis Potape convicted misappropriating K270,000, sentence 2.5 years, funds repaid.

3) Havilo Kavo convicted misappropriating K131,338, sentence 1.5 years, funds repaid.

When granting bail the CJ issued strict conditions that Kavo's appeal be expedited without delay. Supreme Court directional be heard on 13 February 2015 where the Court will give directions to parties to file relevant documents to ensure the appeal is ready to be heard in last week of March 2015. A three man bench of the Supreme Court will then determine whether or not Kavo to uphold the decision of the Trial Judge Deputy Chief Justice Salika or over turn it. If Kavo's appeal is dismissed he will return back to prison to serve out his sentence of 1.5 years less the two weeks he already spent in prison before being granted bail.

The next article Part 3.2 will cover the process of appeal.

How a serial liar and a court declared bankrupt/conman are selling off PNG Power


The bankruptcy of PPL under Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and State Enterprises Minister Ben Micah should not surprise anybody in Papua New Guinea.  Virtually all State-Owned Enterprises are in the same condition, destroyed by political interference, corruption and incompetence.
When the illegal and unnecessary State of  Emergency in the power sector was announced, it handed personal control of PPL to Minister Micah - himself a bankrupt and konman.
That is like putting a vampire in charge of the Red Cross Blood Bank. Why was this done - there is no rational explanation available?
While he has been Minister for State Enterprises - and Minister responsible for ensuring that the PM gets his cut from as many deals as possible -  Micah has become very rich, with overseas assets including properties, vehicles and bank accounts.

In the meantime SOE service standards decline and the people suffer. But the Prime Minister and his favorite Minister - Micah was formerly the PM’s chef of staff - could not care less as long as taxpayers’ money keeps filling up their pockets.
Here are some examples of how Micah steals from the people of Papua New Guinea..

While Minister in charge of IPBC, Micah has abused his personal corporate debit card continuously and illegally. He should be charged with theft and fraud over this alone.

In one period he withdrew K8000 in cash with no acquittals. (Cash withdrawals are a prohibited use of IPBC debit/credit cards and all transactions are required to be acquitted).

In another period mystery cash deposits of approximately K22,000 occurred on his IPBC card, with no explanation or details supplied to IPBC.

Micah has also fraudulently used IPBC funds to pay for travel to and from his electorate, and for electorate business.

His travel expenses - including travel claims for his wife, Lynn Dora Micah - are sky-high. One lot of travel claims submitted to IPBC was for K215,000, and another for $US90,000 for use of the Falcon jet.

Micah also bills IPBC for luxury accommodation in Port Moresby and elsewhere, including suites at the Grand Papua and other places that grass-roots Papua New Guineans can only dream about.

Outrageous funding proposals submitted to NEC by Micah have been rejected out of hand. One submission included K450,000 for the refurbishment of his IPBC office, including a gym and gym equipment.

The same submission also sought K800,000 for cars and K2 million for his personal advisors.

In addition, it proposed spending a further K73 million for advisers and K10 million on consultants, including Arthur Somare and Veronica Maladina, for work on illegal MOUs with various Chinese and Singapore companies.

Payments to one firm, Resource & Logistic Solutions, owned by his known cronies Arthur Somare, Daire Vele, Lars Mortensen and Nathan Chang, totalled K3.4 million

The State Solicitor wrote to Mr Micah and to IPBC saying that some of the consultancy contracts were illegal and improper.

Micah has also been involved in three notorious schemes that ripped off Western Province trust funds, one a K15 million telecommunications scam, another a K8 million deal to buy a barge and a third to repair the MV Danaya, owned by FRPG.

Others have drained the coffers of New Ireland Province and have involved the gross abuse of his DSIP funds.

Micah’s associates in these deals include his son Leyton Tamiropi and Gabriel Magyari, through a number of shady companies including Micom Ltd, Manton Group, Saturn Ltd and Creative Solutions. Micah was also intimately involved in the Paraka scandal on behalf of the Prime Minister.

He along with another Prime Ministerial associate Daniel Korimbao, helped write the infamous letter signed by the Prime Minister authorising the illegal payments.

He and Korimbao when to the Airways Bar one afternoon in January 2012 and gave it to the Prime Minister, who duly signed it.


Can we Papua new Guineans stop and think clearly and stop being cheated by politicians like Ben Micah, goodness me, when he was Kavieng MP from 1992-1997 he completely corrupted his district support grant of K1.5 million he was receiving then.
Those in in Kavieng never saw that money, its benefits nor acquittals. When Micah was MP he traveled home 5 times in 5 years to spend Christmas with his wives not his people.

1. During his term he bought a new house at Ela beach costing K1.2 million.where did he get the money from?  He abused his DSG funds by giving to his family members and political cronies like Tony Matautu and Gillis who in turn gave it back to him to buy the house

2. He bought a barge for K700,000.00, after Micah was dumped in the 1997 National Elections, Martin Aini investigated the cost of the boat and the supplier in Brisbane quoted $55,000 to build a new one. The rest of the money was used to buy his new printing business in port moresby.

3. Micah's printing business went broke after the Ombudsman Commision directed government  departments not to use Micah's business because his quotes were twice everyone's else and that he had to give kickbacks to his sleazy corrupt public servants.

4. Finally PNGBC (Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation) took Ben Micah to court and declared him bankrupt. He was bankrupt from 1999-2009, yet he stood for two elections when he wasn't qualified to do so completely disregarding the rule of law and showing his disdain for ethical or moral standards.

5.In 1999,  Micah was appointed chairman of IPBC and was sacked by Sir Mekere Morauta after eleven (11) months for spending (stealing) K2.5 million renovating his small office at Port Moresby.

The above examples are but the tip of the iceberg of what Ben Micah has corruptly done in the past 15 years, he now he has corruptly won the elections, he will be taken to court by Martin Aini for bribery and illegal campaigning which will all come out in public.

Finally, Ben Micah will be dismissed by the court of disputed returns because he failed to register himself for the 2012 elections and bribed John Kasinga to allow him to contest and vote by hand writing his name on the common roll

That's Ben Micah for you, Corrupt, Greedy, Adulterous.