Sunday, June 17, 2012

Investigations reveal MPs misusing public funds

Source: Post Courier News, Friday June 16, 2012
By Simon Eroro
PUBLIC funds held in district and provincial trust accounts are being used by certain Members of Parliament dishing out public funds for elections purportedly for new projects from district and provincial trust accounts.
Investigations conducted reveals transactions are conducted in relatively large amounts which includes payments made to companies where there are no evidence of ongoing projects and duly executed contracts.
Investigations also revealed that other MPs are involved in money laundering activities, orchestrated through different bank accounts.
The Chairman of Taskforce Sweep Sam Koim also confirmed receipts of numerous complaints recently of sitting MPs dishing out public funds on the eve of elections on purported projects.
Mr Koim said one of those that they had receipts of was a complaint of allegation of recent payments out of Wabag DSIP Trust Account held at Bank South Pacific Limited.
Copies of the bank statements also obtained by this paper show from January – June 2012 for Wabag DSIP Trust Account-subsidiary, large cash withdrawals and payments were made by Wabag MP Sam Abal and in the months of May and June 2012.
It shows persons by the names of Emily Abel, Ester Ere (district treasurer), Peter Sarr (policeman and bodyguard) received substantial amounts, totaling millions of Kina in the last three months.
In June 7, 2012, a total of K310,000 was cashed and paid to chicken farmers and another K388,000 was withdrawn by Mr Abal personally and K360,000 was paid to Ester and Emily on June 8, 2012 from Wabag DSIP Trust Account 1001372834 with BSP.
Mr Abal could not be reached for comment, however, his First Secretary Larsen Talian has denied the allegations made against Mr Abal.
Mr Talian said these project payments were not bogus as alleged.
He said this was the work of Mr Abal’s political rivals, trying everything they feel to discredit him.
He said candidates should spell out their policies and platforms for the people to see rather than raising mere allegations against a leader like Mr Abal who had delivered well for his electorate, province and the country.
He said cash handlers, including commercial banks also had a duty under the Proceeds of Crime Act to report suspicious transactions – and they were encouraged to observe those obligations, especially at this time.
This paper was also informed that the Ombudsman Commission used to issue directions under its lawful powers to stop unnecessary payments from provincial and district trust accounts before the issue of writs for the 2012 National Elections but had not done this election.
Mr Koim said it did not matter who was the signatory to those trust accounts because the signatories of those trust accounts were mere trustees over those accounts.
He said the State was the ultimate holder of these trust accounts and still had proprietary interest over the funds kept in those accounts.

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