Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tiensten arrested,charged

Source: Post Courier, November 16, 2011
By TODAGIA KELOLA

RUNAWAY Pomio MP Paul Tiensten returned home to flashing blue police lights.
Mr Tiensten, who fled to Cairns Australia in September to avoid being detained, walked into the hands of members of the Task Force Sweep team as he came out from the Jackson’s international airport.
He was taken to the National Fraud Squad office where he was interviewed for some hours before being taken to the Boroko Police Station where he was formally arrested and charged.
He is out on K5000 bail.
The former minister returned home after his lawyer Arnold Amet Junior of Amet Lawyers, on Monday contacted Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim by telephone to say that Mr Tiensten wished to return to PNG and go through the police interview process.
Mr Koim, who has been patiently waiting for the former National Planning and Monitoring Minister, advised that it was good that he returned and faced the law. Mr Tiensten has been in Australia since September 14, 2011 after absconding from Kokopo when he was about to be interviewed by Police.
Earlier this month, he told ABC news the investigation was a politically motivated witch-hunt, but declared he would return to PNG to avoid being disqualified as a member of parliament.
At the time, Tiensten said he had nothing to hide but did not want to spend any time in a police lockup.
“I couldn’t allow myself to be locked up. That was the reason why I then flew to Port Moresby and then I went over to Brisbane, simply because I did not agree with the manner in which the taskforce was conducting itself,” he said.
The allegations against Tiensten relate to him allegedly approving K10m as Minister for National Planning and Monitoring to locally owned Travel Air Limited, a company allegedly not registered with the Investment Promotion Authority at the time of approval and the subsequent payment.
The monies in the Development Budget 2011 were earmarked for subsidising air freight costs for rural areas of Papua New Guinea, serviced by existing third level airline companies.
The funds were instead allegedly applied to the establishment of Travel Air Limited.
He was arrested for misappropriation, conspiracy to defraud, and abuse of office.
His former Acting Secretary Ruby Zarriga was previously arrested in relation to the same matter.
Meanwhile, Tiensten said he would allow the criminal justice system to run its normal course, as he defends himself against the charges
“I am now familiar with the allegations which form the basis of the charges against me, and I am confident the process will vindicate me. I accept that I must subject myself to this process, even though I might very well be innocent of the charges,’’ he said.
He also assured he respected the criminal justice system and the judicial process.

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