31 May 2013

PNG businessman Wartoto faces more fraud charges

3:07 pm on 31 May 2013

A Papua New Guinea businessman, Eremas Wartoto, has been charged with additional fraud offences - this time for allegedly misusing funds intended to rehabilitate agricultural plantations.

The latest charges brought by the corruption busting group, the Investigative Task Force Sweep, involve missing funds of six million US dollars..

Don Wiseman has more:

"In charges brought to date Mr Wartoto has allegedly misappropriated more than 16 million US dollars. He was earlier charged with diverting to his own use, funds intended as incentives for an airline operation and for the rehabilitation of a high school. Task Force Sweep's Sam Koim says the alleged agricultural frauds are glaring examples of paper farmers and front companies feeding from the funds appropriated for the National Agricultural Development Project. He says the government's intentions may have been genuine, but greed, lack of management and monitoring, incompetence and political patronage resulted in millions of kina being stolen and wasted. Mr Wartoto, who had evaded authorities by fleeing to Cairns in Australia, returned to the country earlier this month and was arrested last week in Kimbe. He is out on bail. More charges are expected."