PM O’Neill loses bid to prevent anti-corruption investigation

​The Anti-Corruption Taskforce who sought to arrest and interview Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in June 2014 may have succeeded after nearly two years in court regarding the Paraka case.

This follows a PNG Supreme Court ruling today dismissing O’Neill’s  attempt to stop the Task Force Sweep from investigating him.

A three-man bench of the Supreme Court at 9.30 am dismissed all orders preventing  the Task Force Sweep from further investigating the matter.

The  three orders included  that  a: The appeal is dismissed, b: The interim orders of July 30, 2014 and  October 23, 2014 are discharged and c: The Third, sixth and seventh respondents’ cost to the incidental to the appeal, shall be paid by the appellant First, second, fourth and fifth, to be taxed if not agreed.

However, a separate court order still prevents police from arresting PM O’Neill over the legal bills.

This separate court order is make clear on point 4 of today’s decision where it states:

“Mr Marape also sought an interim injunction against servants or agents of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea includingmembers of the Royal Papua New Guinean Constabulary  and the Officers of the Task Force Sweep Team restraining them from conducting a Record of Interview of him or such further or other investigative actions against him in respect of any previous payments of legal bills of Paraka. The Originating Summons was filed following the receipt of a letter dated 15th January 2014, from the commissioner of Police Toami Kulunga to Mr Marape inviting Mr Marape to attend an interview in relation to the alleged fraudulent payment of legal bills to Paraka.

 Meanwhile, Former Prime Minister Mekere Morauta said today that the Supreme Court decision opening the way for the arrest of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Finance Minister James Marape was a victory for due process.

In a unanimous decision Justices Hartshorn, Makail and Sawong rejected an appeal by O’Neill, Marape and others against orders allowing the arrest and questioning of the pair by police and Task Force Sweep.

Minister Marape can now be arrested and charged. The Prime Minister can also be arrested and charged on any matters other than the specific matters raised in the Parakagate arrest warrant.

“This decision should end all the delaying tactics used by the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to prevent their arrest and questioning,” he said.

“The position of Prime Minister O’Neill is now untenable.

“He should stand aside as PM until the criminal charges laid against him have been dealt with.

“Mr O’Neill should no longer bring the good reputation and standing of PNG as a democracy into disrepute by failing to follow convention and stand down.

“He should act immediately to protect the reputation and integrity of the Office of Prime Minister and resign forthwith.”

Sir Mekere said the Prime Minister’s recent comments that he will stand aside when someone discovers that he has profited in any way from the payment of legal fees to Paraka Lawyers misses the point.

It is just another attempt to confuse and deceive people. He must resign and allow the justice system to follow its course.

The Supreme Court in effect found that police and members of Task-Force Sweep had not abused proper procedures or compromised their position in trying to arrest Mr O’Neill and Mr Marape.

It also granted costs in the case to Fraud Squad officers Matthew Damaru and Timothy Gitua.

Staff Reporters