18 Jun 2014

Task Force Sweep head hits back at PNG PM

10:38 pm on 18 June 2014

The head of Papua New Guinea's anti-corruption unit Taskforce Sweep has vowed to keep investigating high-level graft after being sidelined by the government.

The government announced today that it was disbanding Taskforce Sweep after a stay order was placed on a warrant of arrest issued for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill this week in relation to his alleged role in illegal payments to a law firm.

Papua New Guinea parliament facade.

Papua New Guinea parliament facade. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The head of Taskforce Sweep, Sam Koim, says he is not surprised by the announcement by the government.

He says Taskforce Sweep has strictly followed its mandated direction as laid out by the O'Neill government a year ago.

This mandate was to investigate and establish the legality of the payments and to take appropriate criminal actions against persons involved in any illegal payments.

In a statement, Mr Koim says Taskforce Sweep has established that the payments were largely illegal and fraudulent, and that based on those findings, they have arrested and charged many people whose cases are currently in court.

He accuses the Prime Minister and another cabinet minister also implicated in the probe of u-turning on their previous statements by now indicating the payments were legal.

Mr O'Neill says Taskforce Sweep has become compromised and that the police force is now the appropriate body to direct the investigations.