PNG's corruption fighting unit shuts up shop

3:19 pm on 28 April 2017

Papua New Guinea's anti-corruption unit Taskforce Sweep has formally disbanded after several years of high-level political struggles.

PNG Attitude reports that a three-man Supreme Court bench has allowed the team to withdraw its appeal against a cabinet decision of 2014 to disband the unit.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

A judicial review upheld the cabinet decision on the grounds that the establishment of Taskforce Sweep was a matter of administrative policy which the court had no jurisdiction over.

The unit and its head Sam Koim was mandated by the Peter O'Neill-led government in late 2011 and started making inroads into probing high-level corruption.

But in 2014 Mr Koim and his investigators zeroed in on Mr O'Neill's role in allegedly illegal state payments to a law firm.

The prime minister responded by disbanding the unit, although this was subsequently stayed by the courts.

However Taskforce Sweep has since been starved of funding.

Mr Koim said although his team maintained an office, it was impossible for them to sustain operations.

According to Mr Koim, fraud cases initiated by Taskforce Sweep and currently in the courts would continue.

"Whether this work will continue or some of us will be recalled after the elections is the decision of the government that the people choose in this election," he said.

"Personally, I am thankful for the opportunity to lead this team for the last five and half years. I have learnt a lot."