Police case against PNG PM closed

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Picture: FT FILE/RNZ

PORT MORESBY, 24 AUGUST 2018 (POST COURIER) – The case against Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the Paul Paraka saga is now closed.

Police said that no further action would be taken against O’Neill in relation to his alleged role in the allegations of fraudulent payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers.

Police Commissioner Gari Baki said director of the police national fraud and anti-corruption directorate chief superintendent Mathew Damaru had made this known in a comprehensive brief.

Baki said he had been briefed on the status of the ongoing investigations into the allegations of fraudulent payments being made to the law firm which implicated the Prime Minister and resulted in the warrant of arrest obtained against O’Neill on June 12, 2014.

He said on February 25, immediately after the court’s handing down of its decision on the Prime Minister’s case, he had written to O’Neill and invited him to furnish for record purposes a statement providing his side of events leading to the allegations levelled against him.

“On April 10, O’Neill agreed and responded in writing, providing a detailed rebuttal to the allegations leveled against him. The Prime Minister’s response was examined by the national fraud and anti-corruption directorate under Mr Damaru and a reassessment of the evidence resulted that the allegations against O’Neill lacked the required elements to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Baki said the case against O’Neill was therefore closed and no further action was intended to be taken against him.

He said the allegations of fraudulent payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers would continue with fresh evidence supplied by the Prime Minister.

Paul Paraka Lawyers principal Paul Paraka was arrested and charged by the taskforce sweep team in October 2013 in relation to the payment of legal cost by the state which was claimed to have been paid when there was a supreme court restraining order in place.

The law firm had branches in all provinces with its headquartres occupying three floors of the Mogoru Moto building in Port Moresby, and employed close to 2000 employees.

The Prime Minister was not available for comment last night.