Koim welcomes Singapore’s court decision

Chairman of the Task Force Sweep Sam Koim has welcomed the Singapore’s court decision that involves the founding father of the nation Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

Koim said the decision is remarkable and a landmark decision where a foreign court for the first time investigated a case without PNG investigators asking them to probe that particular case.

He told Loop PNG that this was not the first case and many people have been implicated in it.

Koim said his team is aware of funds destined to the PNG Government but distributed offshore, but have difficulty in working with foreign jurisdictions to successfully start the investigation.

He said the Task Force Sweep team had been in contact with the Singapore authorities regarding this case since 2013.

Koim therefore said the decision of the Singapore Courts was satisfying and challenging especially for developing countries like PNG where resources were scarce to prosecute high profile people.

He said developed countries have robust jurisdiction procedures and deal with their investigations on their own.

He added that now that the decision had been handed down, his team will wrap up their investigations and deal with it locally in the country.

A Singapore court has found a married couple guilty for laundering US$3.6 million from PNG in 2010 meant to set up community colleges in the country - then gave US$784,000 of it to the country's then Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare.

They were each found guilty on one count of falsification of accounts and five charges of transferring the benefits of criminal conduct.

Doehrman had been the trustee of a fund set up by the PNG government to set up community colleges in the country.

The Strait Times reported that in June 2010, the trust hired ZTE Corporation for US$35 million to supply telecom equipment for the project and the couple conspired with a ZTE employee, Li Weiming, 34, for the company to pay a secret "commission" to them.

 The news source further stated that to conceal the true nature of the payment, Doehrman and Lim acquired a British Virgin Islands shell company, Questzone Offshore, and signed a fictitious US$3.6 million contract with ZTE.

No services were provided, but a Questzone invoice was created.

Doehrman and Lim gave Li, a Chinese national, US$850,000 via two transactions to his wife's Hong Kong bank account.

They gave Sir Michael three cheques worth a total of US$784,000 in late 2010, all of which were paid into his Singapore bank account.

In their police statements, Lim and Doehrman said bribes had to be paid to the then-PM Sir Michael in order to get business from PNG.

However, Sir Michael Somare has maintained that at no time in his political career, had he received inducements or bribes.

Sir Michael in a statement apologised to the people of East Sepik and the country as a whole for the shame and embarrassment caused by that report in Singapore.

The Grand Chief said he will be seeking legal advice on the matter in few days’ time and will look into the matter.

Freddy Mou