Wartoto guilty of misappropriation

The Waigani National Court today found Kokopo Businessman Eremas Wartoto guilty of misappropriating over K6 million.

He was taken to Bomana to be remanded soon after the decision was handed down. His bail was forfeited. 

Wartoto will return to court on April 21 where submissions will be made on his penalty sentence.

This case involved the misuse of funds allocated and paid to Sarakolok West Transport (SWT) for the renovation of facilities at the Kerevat National High school back in November of 2008.

Justice George Manuhu delivered his decision on verdict this afternoon after the trial was conducted in February last year.

Wartoto was facing two counts of misappropriation for dishonesty applying monies belonging to the state to his own use. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.

The first charge alleged that between Jan 29, 2009 and Jan 30, 2010 in the National Capital District and in the East New Britain province, Wartoto dishonestly applied to his own use and the use of others K6,791,408.20.

The second charge alleged that between Oct 14, 2009 and Jan 30, 2010, in Port Moresby, Kokopo and Rabaul, Wartoto dishonestly applied to his own use and to the use of others K1,197,483.80.

Justice Manuhu today found Wartoto guilty of the first misappropriation count but not guilty of the second count because the court was of the view that he did not have “criminal intentions”.

In 2008 Kerevat National High school was in a bad state and in dire need of repair of its dormitories, ablution blocks, water and sewerage.

In Nov 2008, SWT was awarded a contract of K7.9m for the work.

Two phases of payments was done to SWT, the company belonging to Wartoto.

An advance payment of K6,791,408.20 was made even before any work had started on the ground. This was because the company needed equipment and materials to start the work.

After this payment was made, the state alleged that no work was done to improve the water and sewerage situation and the court found him guilty for this.

The second payment of  K1,197,483.80 was also made to SWT 10 months after work began even before a certification of completion was given. For this payment, he was found not guilty by the court.


(Loop PNG file picture of Wartoto back in February 2016 during his trial.)

Sally Pokiton