PNG police chief scotches call for probe into APEC car deal

6:12 am on 13 November 2018

Papua New Guinea's police commissioner has poured cold water on a call for a probe into the government's acquisition of luxury cars for the APEC summit.

The opposition MP Sir Mekere Morauta wrote to the Police Fraud Squad calling for inquiries into the government's lack of accounting for purchasing hundreds of luxury vehicles for this weekend's summit.

The government said the cars would later be paid for by the private sector at no overall cost to the state.

Sir Mekere claimed $US10 million in public money had been spent without following due process.

However, the Commissioner Gary Baki said he had not seen sufficient evidence to warrant a probe.

"There's got to be an initial inquiry conducted to establish whether there is a need for an investigation to be carried out. So if it's a political statement then I will leave it as a political statement. Unless there is evidence of abuse or misuse, then that's a matter that needs to be reported to police. I don't want police to be dragged into a political agenda", he said.

Sir Mekere, a former prime minister, said the government had failed to answer questions about the deal.

But he said enough information had been gathered by himself and others to justify high-level investigations.

Maserati Quattroporte.

Maserati Quattroporte. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"This information indicates a strong likelihood that the Leadership Code, the Constitution, the Criminal Code and other laws have been broken," he said.

The police chief said the fraud squad did not just respond to public calls for a probe, but had a process it followed.

Mr Baki, who effectively vets potential fraud cases before the squad pursues them, said he had not been presented with evidence in this case.

"Nothing at this point in time," he said. "All I can think is it's hot air, so we'll leave it at that."

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