PNG proceeds carefully with anti-corruption body

5:01 am on 19 January 2021

Papua New Guinea is examining other countries for examples of effective Independent Commissions Against Corruption.

Bryan Kramer.

Bryan Kramer. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

PNG's parliament passed legislation to establish an ICAC two months ago. The Justice Minister Bryan Kramer said his department was proceeding carefully with establishing the structure and systems of the new body.

According to him, PNG has funding support from the EU that will facilitate technical advise from Australia to his department as it establishes ICAC. Kramer said Australia's ICAC had worked well.

"So we'll be looking at other jurisdictions around the region, such as Singapore, that have ICACs established, we'll look at how those organisations are run, their structures, their systems, to see what works in our jurisdiction, and what is practical, and then we'll take it from there."

Kramer acknowledged the challenges of creating such an organisation within a wider system struggling with corruption.

"I do expect ICAC to serve its full purpose. It's not easy when you are establishing such an organisation within a corrupt system. Obviously corrupt systems will try and shut it down," he said.

"So we will go through the process diligently to establish it. It's not something that you can rush within (several) days."

The minister said ICAC would bring together "high-level, skilled people in the space of sophisticated cimes like money laundering", adding a new dimension to the prosecution of corruption in PNG.

Police fraud squad 'compromised'

ICAC will have powers to make arrest and prosecute. This is likely to fill a gap in the worsened by the recent implication of PNG's police anti-fraud directorate in alleged corruption.

Kramer confirmed that the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate has been sidelined while investigations are underway.

The directorate probed several high-profile corruption cases in recent years but has struggled for operational funds.

The minister said the directorate had "got to the point where it itself is under scrutiny of being basically compromised".

"So those investigations are ongoing. There have been individuals involved or assigned to that department that are basically implicated in a number of investigations involving corruption."

Kramer said investigations into alleged fraud were now being conducted by other parts of the police.

Woman charged over major Western Province fraud

Meanwhile, PNG's police commissioner David Manning has revealed that a woman has been arrested over the alleged theft of 74.5 million-US-dollars from a landowner development fund in Western Province.

The defendant, 45-year-old Edna Oai, has been formally charged with 15 counts of false pretence, conspiracy and misappropriation.

It is alleged that the money was misappropriated by the defendant as well as the secretary and other directors of Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation.