Paul Paraka Lawyers rakes in K30 Million

Paul Paraka Lawyers have gone at great length to suppress the tabling of the Finance Commission of Inquiry by obtaining a Court Order in Alotau on a Saturday, which rest...raining order is collecting dust in the National and Supreme Court registry to-date. The Finance Inquiry also looked into funds paid out in Court Judgements when Paul Paraka Lawyers was briefed out by the State on a retainer basis to act for the State in legal suits.

In late 2006, when Mr Bire Kimisopa was appointed as the Justice Minister, Paul Paraka Lawyers contract was terminated. Mr Paraka took the State to Court for some outstanding bills which were quantified by the Court as around K6million plus. That amount was not paid out as the State appealed the Orders of the National Court and there are some restraining orders issued by the Supreme Court which I understand are still current.

On 17th February 2012, a Second batch of payments under the Court Judgments and Interests vote was paid totalling K45,585,468.73. The transaction Listing is enumerated on page attached herein as Attachment 1.

Among the payments made by finance department recently (17/02/2012), a staggering amount of K30million was paid to Paul Paraka through his various web of law firms. The Five Payments appear as being for some purported outstanding C/Order and the recipients are:
i. Paul Othas Lawyers K6,000,000
ii. Harvey Nii Lawyers K6,000,000
iii. Sino & Company K6,000,000
iv. Jack Kilipi Lawyers K6,000,000
v. PKP Nominees Ltd K6,000,000

Total: K30,000,000

On 20th February 2012, a letter jointly signed by Messers Melton Bogege (Financial Controller) and Yeme Kaivila (Senior Accountant) of Department of Finance was sent to Bank of South Pacific Limited stating that the payments made to the recipients enumerated in paragraph 6(a) herein were based on the instructions of Paul Paraka Lawyers whom they claim has valid Court Orders and outstanding bills. The two officers further justified in the following terms:
“The payments were based on a valid Court Order and appropriate audit process was carried out and clearance from the Solicitor General. The Department of Finance had no right to question such authority, and facilitated the payment on the endorsement and approval of the Secretary for Finance”.
We understand there are some Supreme Court Orders in place restraining the payments to be made to Paul Paraka Lawyers.

It appears that BSP did not want to release the funds and Mr Paraka went to great lengths with numerous letters justifying the payments and even issued veil threats to BSP staff if they refuse.

Eventually, BSP appears to have released the payments as apportioned by Paul Paraka Lawyers.

A valid complaint was made by the Solicitor General’s Office to the National Fraud Squad and Task-Force Sweep to investigate this matter. When investigations commenced and a search warrant was obtained to search and obtain documents at BSP, PPL went to the District Court and filed an application to set aside the search warrant and conceal the whole thing.

We have obtained documents from the District Court Registry at Waigani which confirms that Mr Paul Paraka has filed an application to set aside the search warrants and further for a permanent restraining order to restrain any investigations into those allegations. In his affidavit in support of the application, he admits receiving those funds but for work undertaken in the past. He deposes in his affidavit that there is no stay order and relies on a number of Court orders which were superseded by a latter Supreme Court Order staying the orders and the entire proceedings of OS 876 of 2006 [Refer to Attachment 2]

Numerous visits and attempts have been made to the respective authorities who are investigating this matter to drop this case. The case officers were threatened and even intimidated. There were a number of threats on the Chairman of Task-Force Sweep, Mr Sam Koim.

Now, the intelligence information we are picking up is that these people are colluding with some police officers to fabricate and frame up some criminal charges against Mr Sam Koim to tarnish his name and further intimidate him because of his refusal to back-off when initially approached. This is dangerous and we take it very seriously. We call on the Police Commissioner whether he is aware of this and if so, can he deal with those officers who allow themselves to be manipulated by people with malicious intentions.

If Paul Paraka Lawyers was paid on a legitimate Court Order based on some purported outstanding legal fees owed by the State, why not seeking a recent legal clearance from the Solicitor General instead of going straight to finance department because Finance Department is not the authority that does the legal clearance on Court Judgements, legal bills and interests.

If the payment was legitimate, why using different law firms instead of Paul Paraka Lawyers. It makes the transactions very suspicious. These Law Firms have colluded to launder money to the benefit of Paul Paraka Lawyers. The legal firms who received the payments on behalf of Paul Paraka were not entitled to the payment yet allowed themselves as conduits to syphon public funds. This is money laundering.

If the payment is legitimate and Mr Paraka has nothing to hide, why not allowing legitimate authorities to investigate and establish the authenticity of such payments and ensure that a fraud has not been committed? Why is he filing applications to set aside search warrants which is very preliminary stage of the investigations, issuing threats and visiting the officers investigating him. He has received public funds and that is subject to public scrutiny. What has he got to hide?

The O’Neill/Namah Government had been very hard on fighting corruption and we cannot be hypocrites preaching one thing and doing the opposite. This is a very recent payment made a month ago and I strongly urge the Task-Force Sweep to get to the bottom of this. I am prepared to face it if I am implicated. The Prime Minister has also given his word on this when he announced the establishment of Task-Force Sweep.

We call on the PNG Law Society to investigate the law firms involved and immediately take some actions on this matter.
We are also calling on the Solicitor General or the Registrar of the National and Supreme Court to institute contempt proceedings against those people who orchestrated the payment in full knowledge of the existing Supreme Court Orders.

We as a Government will support Task-Force Sweep all the way. The Country is too big for any one individual person, whether in Government or opposition or any citizen of this country.



PRESS RELEASE BY SAM BASIL

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