Wobiro’s verdict to be known next month

The National Court will hand down the outcome of the trial next month against Governor Ati Wobiro and his co-accused; Western Provincial Administrator Dr Modowa Gumoi, and the chief of Fly Care Foundation Inc. Norman Carl May.

The matter was listed for the court to give its ruling on the verdict of the three; however that was adjourned to July 22. The trial was held in Daru in April this year.    

Governor Wobiro, Dr Gumoi and May are facing identical charges of misappropriating funds totaling K7.9 million, charges that arose from counts of abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud and misappropriation of public funds.

On May 25, parties presented submissions on what should be the verdict of the trial.

Lawyers representing the three defendants told the court that the State prosecutors did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt on allegations that they misappropriated funds.

It is alleged the three conspired to establish the Fly Care Foundation between November 10 and December 15, 2013, by using K7.9 million funding from the provincial government.

State alleged they conspired to misappropriate funds through a memorandum of agreement between Governor Wobiro and May for the Foundation to deliver projects in the province. 

Greg Egan, in presenting the defense case, told the court prosecution did not prove its case during the trial or produce evidence that would amount to a case beyond reasonable doubt that the three defendants intended to defraud, steal or misappropriate any funds.

He said Governor Wobiro went into a memorandum of agreement with Fly Care to manage funds for projects in the province so people can get delivery of services.

He went on to submit that Fly Care was the ‘default service delivery administrator’ of the province and all funding allocated for projects went through the normal Joint District Planning &Budget Priorities Committee and Provincial Services Tenders Board approval process.

State, on the other hand, told the court there is evidence the three conspired to misappropriate funds. State prosecutor Anthony Kupmain also said the three accused personally knew each other before they entered into the MoA.

(Loop PNG file picture of Western Governor Ati Wobiro outside the Waigani Court house.)

Sally Pokiton