MASSIVE CORRUPTION AT DEPARTMENT OF PETROLEUM AND ENERGY

By STEVEN ANDRE

Dear Chief Secretary,
The recent announcements by the Prime Minister and yourself to set up an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is an important initiative as the level of corruption is wide spread and dangerous. Corruption in the form of stealing public funds and the appointment of political cronies and wantoks in key public service and political jobs for the purpose of stealing directly or indirectly through dubious contractual deals is wide spread and deep-rooted.
In their haste to steal from the national treasury, a few crooks in this country who are driven by greed are destroying our country while the miseries of the small and disadvantaged people get worse and worse. It's a pity that not one person has be sent to prison since a lot of people have been arrested and charged in relation to the National Planning Dept white-collar crime as reveled by the Task Force Sweep.
We are totally supportive of the ICAC concept. But in the meantime, could you intervene and save the Department of Petroleum & Energy (DPE) from getting into a deepless hole? DPE is in a coma due to massive corruption, including too much political influence and stealing of public funds.
Chief Secretary, the following cases are facts and are in no way fabricated or exaggerated. We want you to please do something about it immediately.

(1) A junior officer in DPE at Grade 14 with a position of Landowner Coordinator was promoted to Deputy Secretary at Grade 20. His name is Collin Kalimba and he is not qualified at all. He was appointed at the time the Writs for the 2012 National Elections were issued. The officer is a relative of the Petroleum Minister. This Officer fraudulently applied for and was paid K2 Million by the National Planning Department for a purported Cocoa Project in Mt Hagen, and when he deposited the K2 Million in a bank account at BSP in downtown. This is public knowledge and we believe this officer is in Task Force Sweep Chairman Sam Koim’s list of corrupt people who stole from the State. DPE Secretary Rimua has recently appointed him as Officer in Charge of the Clan Vetting Exercise for the PNG LNG Project where DPE and hired Consultants are working together. This Clan Vetting exercise involves millions and there is serious abuse of these funds where K5 Million has been already used up. DPE is paying DPE officers K300.00 per day as Allowance and when the Secretary is sleeping, his junior officers and Acting Deputy Secretary are paying themselves thousands at exorbitant rates. For example; last month DPE officers in the Clan Vetting exrcise were paid K9,000.00 each without a clear travel itinerary, including travel airline tickets. Officers got drunk and parties were going on everywhere. There are too many hired vehicles at a rate of K1,000.00 per day and Mr Kalimba is controlling this. It’s a big fast money making business in DPE where hired vehicles are linked to cronies and relatives. How could Secretary Rimua appoint an officer who stole K2 Million from the National Planning Department to Deputy Secretary and again appointed to head a project that involves public monies. Madness!!! After misusing a significant component of the first K5 Million for the Clan Vetting work, Mr Kaliba and Secretary want another K10 Million from Treasury Department so please Mr Chief Secretary, you are also Acting Secretary for Finance so please grill the DPE Secretary and his Deputy and ask them to produce a report and receipts of the K5 Million being already spent. Treasury and Finance Departments have a duty to ensure public funds earmarked for development are strictly spent on meaningful and impact projects and at the same time ensuring control over these funds. DPE’s handling of public funds is a huge concern. Appointing an unqualified junior officer with a K2 Million fraudulent case hanging around his neck to Deputy Secretary and again appointing the same officer to be charging of a project attracting a K10-15 million budget should be a very big concern to Treasury, Finance and PM’s Departments. DPE is a Big Joke. The Government must fix up this Department as it rots.

(2) Officers connected with the Minister’s United Resources Party are promoted despite serious questions about their competency, discipline, professional ethics, attendance and attitude to work. For example; the Petroleum Registrar Mr Iati Ai contested the Abau Open seat in the 2012 election is a personal friend and crony of the United Resources Party Leader. When he re-joined DPE after he lost, he was rewarded by elevating him to Director Petroleum Division. He is the officer who heavily involves in dubious deals with petroleum licences and who is not at work about 97% of official working hours. Secretary Rimua is rewarding people for wrong reasons. Another officer, Tomate Nataisi who contested for Laigam Pogera seat in the 2012 elections under the United Resources Party was promoted to Director for Corporate & Finance Division. This officer was on payroll and collected his salary throughout the entire election period. He had great fun as he continued to collect his pay while on campaign trail. After he returned from the elections, he claimed K140,000 as backdated salary (for what?) and he was paid two payments of K70,000 each so a Payroll Audit (DPE. DPM, Finance Dept) must be done to confirm this theft. These two senior officers are both highly incompetent in their respective appointments and both have a track record of absenteeism even after their promotions. Both are politicians and “businessmen” so rarely are they in their officers. Staff working under them are doing their own things as the head is missing in action. Secretary Rimua is literally destroying DPE, believe it or not.

(3) In 2010 Oil Search submitted an Application for a Petroleum Prospecting Licence No. 385 (APPL 385) in April 2011 but the DPE’s Petroleum Registry Branch of which Mr Iati Aii was in charge had provided Oil Search’s technical information in the application to another company which used the same information to apply for the very same blocks that Oil Search applied for. Oil Search wrote to the Petroleum Minister and Secretary Rimua but the issue was treated as a trivial matter despite the fact that highly commercially confidential information submitted to the State by PNG’s biggest oil company was traded on the black market by crook DPE officers. Oil Search boss Peter Botten knows about this and senior PNG citizen and Oil Search Executive Manager Gerea Aopi can confirm this too. The Government talks about fighting corruption so here is a real case of corruption so please fight this one first.

(4) Secretary Rimua was arrested and charged on the 5th March 2012 by Fraud Squad Police for misappropriation of public funds when he was the acting Secretary. Mysteriously, he was confirmed Secretary on the 07 March 2012, only two days later. People who use him as their instrument and tool had obviously short-cut the process so no wonder so many people live off from crook deals using crooks. It is now very clear that the Secretary is pretending not to know anything where too many vehicle hires at exorbitant rates are draining the DPE recurrent budget and the Department is running very low in cash.


(5) In April 2013, Justice Cunning ruled in the Waigani National Court that Secretary Rimua was found guilty of three Contempt Charges and the Judge said he will set a date to announce the penalties. Is it normal for a person found guilty of three contempt charges to continue to hold onto public office? The Judge is yet to announce the penalties, but in a Westminster system of government and governance, a public officer found guilty in a court of law could be stepped aside or resigned or sacked.

(6) Some ten DPE officers who were suspended, some of them for no good reasons, are still suspended and getting full pay. One officer who was suspended by Secretary Rimua in 2007 is still on payroll and no final decision was made regarding his suspension and this is going on for 7 years now. This is illegal. A top female petroleum geologist who was the Assistant Director of the Oil & Gas Exploration Branch was suspended in August 2011 by fabricating all kinds of lies and she took the matter to the PSC and the PSC directed Secretary Rimua to reinstate her on her substantive position. Secretary Rimua continues to mistreat this female officer by refusing to reinstate her to her substantive position. He has made her unattached and expects her to come to work when he is demeaning her intelligence. Again he is disobeying and disrespecting a lawful directive from the PSC. He is getting too personal with her. He is discriminating her. All the oil companies in PNG know that she is very competent, efficient and professional but because she was very transparent and tough with respect to Technical Reviews and Reports of the Petroleum Prospecting Licence Applications, she gets penalized and obviously the orders appear to come from the top. Another officer was appointed to act on her substantive position so here is a situation where two officers are paid against the same position and this is illegal. Because there are ten other officers still under suspension, each of the ten positions attracts two officers each so this is an issue of budget, and financial resource management. The Government must stop such reckless management practices. Many of us who are suspended are not going to rest until justice is done. It is not right for Secretary to suspend us and then not dealing with us as per the rules and law but keeping us in suspense for years. It is illegal.

(7) Misuse and abuse of public funds at DPE is a Big Business as this is to do with giving business to political cronies and wantoks. Abuses and stealing is done in various ways and forms.

(a) DPE has too many hired vehicles and at a rate of K1,000 per day a vehicle can be hired for 6 consecutive months or more. Most of these vehicle are Toyota Land Cruisers and most times they are hired not based on real need but for the sake of giving business to wantoks and driving beer.

(b) Too many contractors and contracts are entertained in DPE and millions are drained through this very dirty “culture”. Only a thorough audit and investigation could unveil all the rubbish in DPE.

(c) In March 2012 DPE held the Moran Oil Project MOA Review in Mt Hagen against the consent of the key landowner leaders namely Pape Puga and Tony Kila. DPE knew the landowners were not going to come so instead of postponing the meeting, DPE went ahead and hosted it in Mt Hagen by spending K5 million in a record two weeks. Most of these funds went to the hiring of 80 very expending vehicles and refuelling 10 Kilometres outside of Mt Hagen city as all was arranged to make local Hagen people happy. DPE officers were carrying huge cash around and a female officer from Southern Highlands walked off with hundreds of thousands to Mendi and made Secretary Rimu looked like a fool. DPE is yet to account for this K5 Million because it is very difficult to report the truth. The truth is K5 million of tax payers money was misused and stolen under the very nose of the Secretary. Secretary Rimua even failed to discipline the female officer.
DPE is a ghost organization. There is absolutely no order, no coordination, no leadership. Senior officers at Assistant Director level often come to office with T-Shirts, Jeans, tongs and slippers, and they can still attend meetings with oil companies. Officers can still collect Travelling Allowances and not travel while staff can come to work any time they wish to because no one will say anything.
Chief Secretary, who is supposed to monitor the performances of each Government Department and the respective Heads. Who is supposed to monitor the financial operations of each Department. DPE is on the loose and there is no discipline in the administration of staff and in the use of public funds. It is all chaotic. People are doing anything and everything and destroying this very important Department.

If the Government’s objective of setting up an ICAC is to fight corruption, then it must deal with DPE first because what has been reported to here is corruption.
Finally, please invite and speak to all suspended DPE officers to brief you. It is advised that you also talk to the CEOs of oil companies and the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum as they will give you an honest view of how DPE operates.
Thank you.

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