24 May 2013

Legal fees scam rocks PNG government

3:19 pm on 24 May 2013

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill has threatened to sack everyone in his finance department over a 32 million US dollar scam involving top lawyers and officials.

The revelations come after parliament's speaker allowed the opposition leader, Belden Namah, to question the government on a judicial report into the scam that has been under injunction for three years.

Mr O'Neill says he has ordered an anti-corruption investigation into the payment of bogus legal fees by the department.

He says a number of individuals, companies and law firms have been benefiting from public funds.

The newspaper, The National, says the Finance Minister, James Marape, had ordered the department to stop making payments in November, but that order was ignored.

The finance secretary, Steven Gibson, and his deputy, Jacob Yafai, have been suspended.