16 Mar 2006

Sir Michael Somare the later Papua New Guinea leader under scrutiny

8:38 pm on 16 March 2006

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, is under investigation for attempting to fast-track a controversial logging project.

The Australian newspaper reports Sir Michael wrote to the Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch ordering him to issue a permit to loggers Tzen Niugini "without further delay" for a project in East New Britain province.

The letter has been referred to the PNG Ombudsman Commission, which is also investigating the alleged misuse of district support grants by Sir Michael's son, Arthur Somare, who was forced to resign as Planning Minister this month.

The Australian has a copy of the letter written by Sir Michael last August.

In the letter Sir Michael says the New Britain project has been "unnecessarily delayed and no efforts should be spared to ensure it is fast-tracked".