22 May 2013

PNG Finance Secretary suspended as department probe flagged

7:48 pm on 22 May 2013

Papua New Guinea's Finance Secretary Steven Gibson and his deputy Jacob Yafai have been suspended over allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds.

The newspaper, The National, reports that the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told Parliament an investigation into the department will be made but has ruled out a commission of inquiry.

The opposition has made a series of claims about unlawful payments made by the department to private companies, individuals and law firms.

Mr O'Neill said he was unaware of the alleged US$32.4 million payments between February last year and May this year to a single law firm as claimed by the Opposition leader Belden Namah but signalled this would be investigated.

He told MPs that many law firms, individuals and companies have been benefiting from public funds.

A request has been made to Australian Federal Police and Interpol to assist PNG's police and anti-corruption agency Task Force Sweep to investigate the Finance Department.