THE COURT REPORT
Paraka ordered to pay K6.6 million to workers superfund
Controversial lawyer and aspiring politician, Paul Paraka, has been ordered by the National court to pay over K6.6 million in unpaid rent and interest to Nambawan Superfund Limited.
Nambawan Super is PNG’s largest superannuation fund provider and is the owner of the Mogoru Moto building in downtown Port Moresby, where Paraka’s law firm was based from 2013.
In June 2020, as PNGi reported at the time, Nambawan Super obtained a default judgement against Paraka in a claim for rent arrears amounting to over K2 million, with the final total to be assessed.
That damages assessment hearing was held on 14 March 2022. There, the National court heard evidence that Paraka had breached two contracts with Nambawan Super. The first was a commercial lease agreement signed in September 2013 and the second, a deed of settlement to pay outstanding rental arrears signed in March 2016.
The court found that Paraka had failed to pay the agreed monthly rent and service fees under his lease agreement from February to October 2016 to a total of K2,626,425.
The court also found that after the lease was terminated in October 2016, Paraka’s law firm continued to occupy the building while still failing to pay any rent. The court therefore ordered a further K843,663 in damages for unpaid rent for the period to May 2017.
In addition the court ordered Paraka pay a further K158,798 to Nambawan Super being the costs incurred by the fund in packing up his law firms files, furniture and equipment, removing them from the building, putting them in secure storage and changing the building locks.
The court also ordered Paraka pay interest on the outstanding rental arrears at the rate of 15% per annum as provided for in the original lease. This amounted to a further K2,999,687 as at 22 March 2022.
If Paraka fails to pay the total sum of K6,617,573 within 30 days then further interest will accrue at the rate of 8% per annum, which is equivalent to K1,450.43 per day.
To add further salt in Paraka’s wound, the judge ordered that he pay all the legal costs incurred by the Plaintiff on an ‘indemnity basis’.
This is an unusual order for the court to make and is very punitive as the defendant has to pay all the legal costs incurred by the Plaintiff and not just the necessary costs.
The court ordered this additional sanction because of the ‘substantial delays’ to the court proceedings caused by Mr Paraka, his failure to abide by previous promises, his failure to disclose any valid defence, his constant wasting of court time, and his ‘deliberate refusal to attend Court to defend the matter’.
“I find the defendant’s actions at the trial and throughout the course of this proceeding in general, disingenuous as well as bordering on contempt of Court. I also note that the defendant, by his actions, has shown no regard for the troubles and financial losses that he had and has continued to cause to the plaintiff’s business. In my view, he therefore ought to be punished for these with an order for cost against him on an indemnity basis.”
The K6.6 million that Paraka must now pay pales somewhat into insignificance when compared with the more that K162 million the State alleges he has defrauded from the public purse. Criminal charges relating to that fraud are still outstanding.