The Impunity Top 10

The Oxford english dictionary defines impunity as: ‘Exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action’.

Over the last two years PNGi has published dozens of investigations where high profile individuals in government and business appear to escape injurious consequences for actions documented in formal inquiries, and court proceedings.

So today we publish our impunity top 10.

If you feel that we have overlooked anyone, or that there are others that deserve a dishonourable mention email PNGi at: [email protected]

  1. Peter O’Neill: O’Neill faced unequivocal condemnation by the Commissions of Inquiry into NPF and Investment Corporation of PNG. O’Neill proclaims innocence. More recently, Asian Development Bank integrity investigators placed an O’Neill owned company at the centre of a major procurement scandal. However, teflon Pete just keeps ducking and diving, with a notable degree of success.
  2. Sir Michael Somare: While his two close family friends were convicted and jailed in Singapore for soliciting bribes to Sir Michael Somare, and his son, the recipients of this bribe, i.e. Somare and his son, have suffered nothing more than a brief press scandal. Singapore it was prison, in PNG it was barely a squeak.
  3. William Duma: The police have declined to prosecute William Duma over the Manu Manu land scandal despite the damning findings of the Administrative Inquiry. Duma’s evidence was eye wincingly bad (i.e. this guy who flipped the state lease is my brother in law, oh wait no I forgot, he is not my brother in law), and got subtly lambasted in the inquiry report. But it appears for a see no evil hear no evil RPNGC top brass, Duma’s contradictory evidence was enough. And this is not to mention Duma’s hidden role in the Paga Hill Development Company project which PNGi exposed in 2017.
  4. Sang Chung Poh: Sir Poh owns Borneo Pacific a company accused of winning inflated contracts for pharmaceutical supplies through illegal tenders, providing substandard service, and even using counterfeit goods. The ‘punishment’ for Sir Poh is a knighthood.
  5. Gudmundur Fridriksson: The Icelandic-Australian businessmen is a household name in Waigani synonymous with scandal, beginning with his fateful enterprise Destination PNG. Fridriksson has the rare distinction of running businesses slammed in 4 Public Accounts Committee, 2 Auditor General and 1 Commission of Inquiry inquiries, for which he suffered zip substantive consequences. Politicians remain more than happy to partake in smiling promotional photos with ‘Gummi’ and promote his business interests.
  6. Jimmy Maladina: A controversial entry, after all didn’t the Supreme Court exonerate Jimmy Maladina for his part in the NPF fraud? Yes after confessing, the Supreme Court in its wisdom did discharge Maladina for his role the NPF fraud. But he remains on this list for escaping punishment for the Waigani land fraud, which his co-conspirator spent years in prison for after being convicted by the National Court. The accessory went down and did hard labour, the kingpin walked away without even a slap on the wrist. Questions also remain about his role in a 99 year state lease issued to PNG Deep Sea Fishing, a deal reported to be affected by corruption and fraud.
  7. Peter Yama: Since the 1990’s Yama has acquired a reputation as a ‘serial litigator’. Yama himself featured prominently in the findings of the infamous Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance. The Commissioners recommended that Yama be referred to police for what they argue was an unlawful K38 million claim against the state. The Commission also uncovered his involvement in another questionable claim brought against the Health Department. In addition to this, following litigation against state enterprise, Telikom PNG, the Supreme Court concluded Yama had abused legal process in an effort to win a K10.5 million pay day – while a later National Court decision accused Yama of forgery. Yet Governor Yama watches on from a bemused position as Governor of Madang.
  8. Sir Julius Chan: Another Governor is worth a mention, New Ireland grandee, Sir Julius Chan. Dating back to Sandline, Sir Julius has been at the centre of major political scandals. Of late New Ireland has been rocked by a vast edifice of illegal dealings (see here and here), some of which directly implicate Sir Julius and his family. They are documented in detail by the Auditor General. Despite the alarm being raised, the tumbleweed roles past in New Ireland.
  9. Chris Haiveta: Haiveta has been centrally implicated in three of the biggest scandals in Papua New Guinea’s post-independence history – the Sandline affair, the National Provident Fund fraud and the Cairns Conservatory scandal. He has also been pinged by the National Intelligence Organisation for alleged links to illegal logging and escaped a Leadership Tribunal over financial misconduct when he lost his seat in the 2007 elections. In May 2018, a new tribunal was announced, but the current Governor for Gulf still remains untouched and is enjoying all the privileges of office.
  10. Michael Nali: Although he has twice been found guilty of misconduct in office, and was originally sacked as an MP on the more serious charge of misappropriation, that penalty was later overturned but a new tribunal was never appointed to re-hear his case. Since then, new revelations have emerged about his involvement in the Paga Hill real-estate development which raise some serious conflicts of interest issues that have never been tried. It has also been revealed how his companies have benefited from some dubious government contracts and that while has been Minister for Works since 2017, he has been the co-owner of a company with a Chinese State corporation that is one of the largest beneficiaries of the government’s extravagant spending on infrastructure projects.