Monday, October 8, 2012

PNG loses K3.8b in graft to Australia

AUSTRALIA’S anti-corruption agencies and its banking and financial system are condoning PNG’s burgeoning corruption industry by turning a blind eye to it, Task Force Sweep chief Sam Koim says.
He told a meeting in Sydney last Thursday that while Australia preached good governance and anti-corruption, never once had it repatriated any proceeds of corruption back to PNG.

He said half of the country’s development budget over three years had been fleeced off in corruptive activities. That is a staggering K3.8 billion out of the PNG government component of K7.6 billion for 2009, 2010 and 2011

Said Koim: “A few months ago, it was reported in a Cairns newspaper that PNG residents are the largest investors in the far north according to the latest figures from the Registrar of Titles.
“It is also understood six known politicians have invested in million-dollar properties up north and central Cairns to a tune of A$11.45 million (K24.5 million) – A$3.8 million, A$1.9 million, A$2.3 million, A$2 million and A$1.45 million respectively.

“It was also recently reported that PNG’s investment in Australia reached US$1.2 billion according to Asian Development Bank country economist Aaron Batten.
“Not all these investments can possibly be derived from legitimate funds. So is the banking industry in Australia doing business with ‘dirty’ money?

“For those of you thinking that Australian authorities would surely have prevented this if the money was not ‘clean’, or at the very least, seized and returned the money, I have some sobering news.
“Australia has never repatriated any proceeds of corruption to Papua New Guinea.”
Koim said PNG politicians and those doing business with them had bought properties and other assets, put money in bank accounts, gambled heavily in Australian casinos and “have never been troubled by having their ill-gotten gains taken off them”.

“Unless the money can be prevented from leaving our country or prevented from entering Australia, the bad guys win and the rest of Papua New Guinea suffers,” he said.
“And PNG is suffering. Of the seven million Papua New Guineans who live in the country that is Australia’s closest neighbour – a country so close that you could paddle a boat to it from your Northern islands, 90% do not have access to electricity, 57% live on less than A$2 a day; 31% have access to a safe water supply, 46% complete primary school.

“Imagine a country richly endowed with natural resources, sometimes called an ‘island of gold,
floating on a sea of oil’, so rich yet its people are so poor. “How frustrating it is to watch the richness of your land vanish in the hands of a few.”
Koim said rampant corruption had forced Australia to shift its aid from untied cash grants to tied project aid managed mostly by AusAID.

As a result, Australia spends more aid money managing its aid in PNG nowadays, he said.
Others such as the Asian Development Bank were following suit.
He said: “We believe that Australia understands us more than any other country, owing to our historical and continued mutual relationships.

“And so based on that premise both countries can, and should, collaborate in devising mechanisms that can help detect and combat money laundering and cross border corruption.”“Not all these investments can possibly be derived from legitimate funds. So is the banking industry in Australia doing business with ‘dirty’ money?

“For those of you thinking that Australian authorities would surely have prevented this if the money was not ‘clean’, or at the very least, seized and returned the money, I have some sobering news.
“Australia has never repatriated any proceeds of corruption to Papua New Guinea.”
Koim said PNG politicians and those doing business with them had bought properties and other assets, put money in bank accounts, gambled heavily in Australian casinos and “have never been troubled by having their ill-gotten gains taken off them”.

“Unless the money can be prevented from leaving our country or prevented from entering Australia, the bad guys win and the rest of Papua New Guinea suffers,” he said.
“And PNG is suffering. Of the seven million Papua New Guineans who live in the country that is Australia’s closest neighbour – a country so close that you could paddle a boat to it from your Northern islands, 90% do not have access to electricity, 57% live on less than A$2 a day; 31% have access to a safe water supply, 46% complete primary school.

“Imagine a country richly endowed with natural resources, sometimes called an ‘island of gold, floating on a sea of oil’, so rich yet its people are so poor.
“How frustrating it is to watch the richness of your land vanish in the hands of a few.”
Koim said rampant corruption had forced Australia to shift its aid from untied cash grants to tied project aid managed mostly by AusAID.

As a result, Australia spends more aid money managing its aid in PNG nowadays, he said.
Others such as the Asian Development Bank were following suit.
He said: “We believe that Australia understands us more than any other country, owing to our historical and continued mutual relationships.

“And so based on that premise both countries can, and should, collaborate in devising mechanisms that can help detect and combat money laundering and cross border corruption.”

The National