PNG's Paraka in mood for revenge after charges dropped

9:01 pm on 12 December 2018

A Papua New Guinea lawyer will pursue legal action against anti-fraud detectives and officials who brought dozens of fraud-related charges against him.

Paul Paraka's announcement comes after 27 charges of conspiracy, theft and money laundering against him were this week dropped.

Paul Paraka

Paul Paraka Photo: PNGExposed

A senior committal court magistrate ruled that the charges laid by the police fraud squad, stemming from a probe by the former anti-corruption agency Taskforce Sweep, were an abuse of court process.

As signalled to RNZ Pacific last year, Mr Paraka now plans to pursue a number of legal matters, including what he describes as a former Solicitor-General misleading Australian authorities.

Neville Devete recently appeared before an Australian Federal Circuit Court, applying for a protection visa.

Mr Devete, who in 2012 made a police complaint in relation to alleged "improper payments" made to Mr Paraka's firm, said that following the complaint he had received a death threat and that his family faced intimidation.

Describing this claim as a fabrication, Mr Paraka said he would fly to Australia next week to report Mr Devete to Federal Police and relevant authorities.

"I will ask the High Court to have both Mr Devete and the director of the fraud squad in Port Moresby (Matthew Damaru) who actually provided some false statements in support of that application, for the court to charge them with contempt of court for lying."

He denied that he had threatened or intimidated Mr Devete.

"He'll not get it (the protection visa). Devete was not going to give any evidence at any stage in our case. So there was no immediate threat on him."

The outspoken lawyer is hungry for revenge, and said he would pursue those who worked to bring charges against him, primarily members of the fraud squad and Taskforce Sweep, as well as politicians who supervised the now disbanded agency.

"Everyone in the system, the government institutions, they connived, they colluded, they abused the process to destroy the single largest law firm in this country," he said.

However, Mr Paraka indicated he would not go to PNG's police on the matter because he said "they'll abuse the process again".

"I will prosecute those bastards myself, and I will deal with them and make sure they go behind bars for various offences committed under the criminal code, both bureaucratic leaders and politicians alike."

Yet Mr Paraka is not completely cleared, according to the head of the fraud squad.

"The case is not over. It was only struck out, meaning that we can start the process again," Mr Damaru said, adding that there was a separate set of similar charges against Mr Paraka currently before another magistrate.

Matthew Damaru, PNG

Matthew Damaru after being assualted while pursuing high-level corruption cases. Photo: Supplied

Earlier, fraud squad detectives alleged the PNG government made illegal state payments of US$30 million to the Paraka Lawyers firm.

Based on investigations by the now disbanded Taskforce Sweep, the squad in 2014 sought an arrest warrant for PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill over his involvement in the payments.

Mr O'Neill's lawyers challenged the validity of the warrant which was finally quashed last year after a series of tortuous legal applications.

That case was one of myriad Finance Department payments linked to alleged inflated contracts and false legal bills, tracking back to 2006.

The fraud squad head told Police Commissioner Gary Baki in August that the case against Mr O'Neill was closed.

Since this case the fraud squad had been handicapped from probing high-level cases in PNG because it had been effectively stripped of its resources.

"That's the way it was made so that we cannot pursue all these major corruption investigations," Mr Damaru explained.

But he said it remained up to the Public Prosecutor and the Solicitor-General whether other charges against Mr Paraka would be advanced in court.

Meanwhile, in an ostensibly unrelated matter, the current Solicitor-General, Faith Keene Barton, has been sacked for "negligence" of duty that may have cost the state $US61 million.

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