PM cleared by investigation team

Prime Minister, Peter O'Neil
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neil, has been cleared by Task Force Sweep (TFS) of any involvement into the alleged fraudulent payment to Paraka Lawyers, reports The National.

It is alleged that the payments of K71.8 million was made on directions from the PM though a letter to then Finance Secretary, Steven Gibson, directing him to make payments to the law firm. However, TSF chairman, +Sam Koim, said their investigations have concluded that the letter was fraudulent.

Koim also said, from the investigation team's professional judgement and assessment, they cannot pursue the PM's alleged involvement into the purported fraud by Paraka lawyers. However, his cabinet ministers are not.

TFS found the Finance Minister, James Marape, and Treasurer, Don Polye, making reference to the letter without officially verifying its authenticity.

Mr Koim said:
“A stark difference between the alleged letter by O’Neil and the two ministers’ various correspondences is that both ministers claim to have had the opportunity to peruse the legal bills and were satisfied with the claim whereas O’Neil’s letter does not say so.”
The pair have been asked in for questioning by the Police Commissioner and Marape is expected to attend interviews today while Polye will go in on Monday.  

Meanwhile, former Finance Secretary Gibson was arrested and charged on conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office and misappropriation relating to the Paraka saga.

Gibso, 54, was questioned by National Fraud and Anticorruption Unit in Konedobu before being detained at the Boroko Police Station.

Mr Gibson based on the alleged directive from the PM, made notations on the letter directing his First Assistant Secretary for a special warrant authority to make payments. He said a copy of the letter was produced to him by a lawyer at the department’s conference room.

Gibson was the Finance Secretary from 2011 until his suspension in 2012 over the issue.

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