PNG election ragged with corrupt money – Is GRUF a hidden version PNC party?

AT around the same time five (5) years ago, the Peter O’Neill and PNC team on campaign rallies promised to curb high level corruption in the Government, if we could remember. The then disbanded Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS) was setup for this purpose which did an excellent job exposing and prosecuting corruption and malfeasance.
Along the way, when the police fraud squad got too nosy for comfort, police commissioner Garry Baki applied a somewhat special “vetting” to high profile cases under investigation, something which appears to be a smokescreen to hide the Paul Paraka saga that involves questioning Peter O’Neill. This is evident when Paul Paraka wrote to the Police Commissioner Garry Baki to ‘crash’ all files relating the case dated August 2016.
The bond between Paul Paraka and Peter O’Neill is not so hidden. When Paul Paraka was arrested on the Oct 23, 2013 over 18 allegations, he claimed the payments were for the work done by his Law firm and are lawful. Paraka was referring to a number of payments which the Government Ministers perpetuatedly denied and were subject to investigations which further reveal more corruption. Additional charges surfaced as investigation continued and exposed 32 more corrupt related offenses against Paul Paraka.
In terms of money value, an initial K71.8 million payment being investigated and the later it went up to the value of more than K200 million.
This is a lot of money for a single private law firm to be paid out by the Government. The Paraka case is a wider and those with sticky hands are glued to it. Obviously the Prime Minister is glued to it.
Now that the issuance of 111 writs is signed by the Governor General, the same Paul Paraka still with high profile corruption investigations involving millions of kina tied to his name tag, reportedly launching his political party known as the Grassroots United Front (GRUT) Party to have 111 candidates throughout the country including himself in his Mul-Baiyer Lumusa Electorate vying to represent the people in the Government.

PNG’s sad history about NPF saga  
But PNG has never forgotten the Paraka saga, if we did forgotten, it could be another case of Jimmy Maladina and Peter O’Neill story on NPF saga.
No-one knows what really happened with the NPF saga, not even the media spare time and space for public interest. Something which most other vibrant democratic nation’s mainstream media would wanted to further investigate and expose. Whether there is something sinister to talk about the NPF saga or not, the mainstream is already losing the taste of it as newsworthy on the subject. Post Courier created a page on its website specifically for compiling the NPF saga stories but now it has disappeared or perhaps archived offline. No one wants to do an investigative journalism. Who cares, media personnel are working for their bread and butter. Their job security maybe at stake of reporting such corruption.       

The Emergence of Paraka Saga
The allegation against Mr. Paraka was brought before the National Parliament by the then Opposition Leader Hon. Belden Namah saying it is of national importance about the issues of K71.8 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
Mr. Namah dragged the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill into the issue saying he signed the letter dated January 2014 and reported the matter to police alleging two other Ministers; Finance Minister Hon. James Marabe and Treasurer Minister Don Polye for their alleged involvement in the payment.
The letter reportedly signed by Peter O’Neill partly stated “…have all the outstanding legal bills owed to Paul Paraka Lawyers settled forthwith,” was the instruction to the secretary to facilitate payment.
Having being reported on social media, mainstream media both local and international of the allegation by Belden Namah, Paul Paraka got to his nerves to rebuke. Mr. Paraka told his staff outside his office in Port Moresby that politicians lied about his corruption case and that he was arrested and released. He maintained that the matter could be been resolved in an open dialogue rather than involving police and investigating him. He said the case should not have been investigated.
But Mr. Namah laid a complaint with the then Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga referred the case to ITFS to investigate.  Sam Koim’s investigation revealed that Paul Paraka was paid for the seven years went well over K71.8 million as claimed earlier while Paraka took out an advertisement in the newspaper saying they were still payments outstanding on February 2012 and May 2013.
Paraka argued that the payment received was normal business payment for his services rendered to the Government.   “What is the criminality of the business that being paid for the services it rendered?” he questioned.
During the interview with police, Paraka said he was arrested because there was a Supreme Court order stop payment being issued and thus he should not be paid.

Who has authorized the payments?
Don Polye on radio FM100 talk back show said he facilitated the K71.8 million to Paul Paraka while being the Treasurer of the O’Neill Government upon instructions from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. Polye admitted that Mr. O’Neill was well vest and knowledgeable about the payment of the K71.8 million and he wrote the letter which know Mr. O’Neill denied. Mr. Polye said he did not act alone to facilitate the payment, he admitted he got instructions from the Prime Minister to do so.   
On the other hand, Finance Minister Hon. James Marabe said when he took the office in August 2012, he was presented with a bill of more than K36 million from Paraka Lawyers in October of the same year. Marabe said he consulted Peter O’Neill about the bills and Peter asked him not to pay.
Effective of 31st October 2012, all payments to Paul Paraka Lawyer were put on hold, Marabe said. However, some money were paid when Polye was the Minister of Treasurer which Polye confirmed on the FM100 Talk Back Show that he facilitated the K71.8 million payment as directed by the PM.
There were four (4) payments made after he put a stop in October which happen without his approval as the Finance Minister in the month of November and December 2012 and March and May of 2013.
Investigations were conducted who then made the payments to Paraka when James Marabe did not approve these payments?
“Sadly two months underlying in May ‘I have found out’ that this gentlemen was the one who approved the payments.” Marabe said on ETM news. The question is which gentlemen is Marabe referring to here?  Is it Don Polye? Or who else would be?
O’Neill was continuing to deny that he did not signed the letter to give directive to the Finance Secretary for the release of payments.
When both Ministers Marabe and Polye denied that they did not approve any payment, someone must have wrongly done it. Was it the prime minister or the secretary? Was the Prime Minister’s letter sufficient for executing the payments? Did he not signed the letter?

The Conviction Paul Teinsten
Former National Planning Paul Teinsten was convicted of a similar crime in which Mr. Teinsten give a ‘political direction’ to the security to approve and make payment to Erimas Wartoto. It is a political directive because he did not have any powers under the ministry to direct payments. In fact, the National Planning Department was not supposed to make payments or deal with payments under the department roles and responsibilities.
He was found guilty of giving political direction and now serving 9 years in jail.

The future of PNG corruption
As exciting as newly married couples, five (5) years ago in their romantic moments PNG’s major coalition partners (PNC-NA-THE) in having to frame the Alotau Accord which pledged to bring to Parliament the Anti-money Laundering legislation, Whistle-blower legislation, Freedom of Information legislation and an Independent Commission against Corruption Act (ICAC) as their promise to curb corruption.
But to date none of these got passed in the Parliament as promised. Instead the Government successfully legislated a Cybercrime Law which has a draconian provision affecting social media and has pointlessly proposed amendments to change the election dates and increase candidate nomination fees, moves that are seen to advantage the incumbents but failed.
PNG is now heading into the polls, power in the hands of people to choose leaders either to fight corruption or to breed corruption.

The PNC-NA-THE marriage is now separated with strong guts against each other that they are less likely to reunite in the formation of the next government after the polls. Who else would be PNC potentially courting with? Is GRUF a potential? Is GRUF in a sheep’s coat of the real PNC? You be the jury!


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