Wednesday 14th June 2023
Commissioner of Police Mr David Manning has announced the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s current investigation and prosecution of a number of transnational economic crimes allegations involving Papua New Guineans and foreigners.
“Among the other on-going fraud cases, Police has formally commenced criminal investigation last month into the allegations of fraud and official corruption jointly reported on various local and international media platforms by ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.”
Reports by ABC News and OCCRP allege that former Chief Executive Officers of PNG Ports Corporation, Late Fego Kiniafa and Stanley Alphonse, were bribed by International Container Terminal Services Inc through an Australian, Don Matheson, to win the contract to operate the Lae and Motukea Wharves.
“PNG Ports Corporation awarded the contract to operate the two major wharfs for a term of 25 years to ICTSI at the conclusion of the tedious Public International Tendering Process.
“Prime Minister Hon James Marape, MP, publicly distanced himself and his government from any involvement in the reported allegations and ordered an independent investigation to verify their truthfulness.”
Mr Manning added that, among other objectives, Police is conducting the investigation to
establish if Late Fego Kiniafa, Stanley Alphonse, Don Matheson, ICTSI and any other interested parties committed any offences contravening PNG criminal laws.
He further says, this is a complex transnational economic crime investigation, adding PNG Ports Corporation awarded the contract to operate the two major container wharves after undergoing a lengthy public international procurement process to the operator which is alleged of official corruption including foreign bribery.
“This circumstance requires Police to also independently review the entire public tendering process undertaken by PNG Ports Corporation to determine whether the contract awarded to ICTSI was done properly and fairly without any form of bias.
Based on the Police preliminary review, the PNG Ports Corporation is one of the best performing State-Owned Entities (SOEs) in the country, with strong corporate governance, and its board provides excellent oversight over the operations of the company.
Police also notes that PNG Ports Corporation received substantial financial backing from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Australian Government through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP).
PNG Ports Corporation is the single biggest beneficiary of the AIFFP and it has received approximately K1.21 billion loan and K234 million grant to date.
“It appears that the Lae and Motukea Wharves that have been funded by ABD and the Government of Australia are currently operated by ICTSI which is alleged to have been involved in fraud as jointly reported by OCCRP and ABC News.
“It is critically important for the Independent State of Papua New Guinea through the Police as directed by the Prime Minister to conduct proper thorough independent investigation to establish the truthfulness of the allegations and take appropriate actions
if required to demonstrate that the government also strongly promotes a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and fraud at large.”
Mr Manning added the Police investigation will also clear the defamatory, fraud and administrative allegations hanging over the heads of PNG Ports Corporation’s Board, its former CEOs and contractors, if they have not engaged in any unlawful act.
Mr Manning understands that both the Australian Federal Police and INTERPOL Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (FCACC) have interests in the same allegations and are conducting their own independent criminal investigation.
“PNG Police has requested for special support from both AFP and INTERPOL FCACC to conduct this complex transnational economic crime investigation outside of PNG.”