14 Aug 2006

PNG police minister backs Inguna in fraud probe

12:37 pm on 14 August 2006

Papua New Guinea's police minister, Alphonse Willie, says he has full confidence in the Police Commissioner, Sam Inguba, who is being investigated over allegations he blocked an inquiry into an alleged fraud.

The prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has announced an inquiry into allegations the commissioner personally stopped police officers from travelling to the port city of Lae to investigate suspects involved in an allegedly fraudulent claim for compensation.

The case involves claims by 26 people for loss of business due to the long-running secessionist conflict in Bougainville.

The 1.4 million US dollar sum, part of which has reportedly been paid out, was agreed in an out-of-court settlement reached in 2004 between the solicitor-general and PNG's finance department.

It's alleged Inguba issued transfer orders to six detectives just before they were to arrest a former senior public servant in relation to the case.

But Mr Willie has defended Mr Inguba, saying he had every confidence in him as a credible, professional and highly-committed officer and is convinced he acted within his rights and responsibilities in relation to the fraud case.