Repercussions from ‘Parakagate’ anti-corruption investigation continue


BAI-logo-no-text-100x100_backgroundWhile the legal and political repercussions arising from Papua New Guinea’s ‘Parakagate’ anti-corruption enquiry are still being worked out in Port Moresby, social order appears to have been maintained so far. However, the controversy may indirectly affect the progress of some significant new legislation, including that required to establish the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Last week, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary issued a warrant for the arrest of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, giving rise to a series of high profile retirements and sackings (see timeline below).

This week, in what appears to be a related move, the PNG Government postponed Parliament until 26 August, effectively delaying its scheduled three-week August session. Enabling legislation for Papua New Guinea’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and related legislation to re-organised state-owned assets into various ‘Kumul’ companies may be delayed as a result.

Debate on the Government’s controversial proposed amendment to Section 145 of the country’s Constitution, which aims to provide for the leader of the ruling party in Parliament to be invited to form Government in the event of a successful vote of no confidence, may also now be delayed.

With official Gazette Notices yet to be published, it remains unclear when the year’s remaining sitting days will take place, although the next scheduled sitting of Parliament after August is in November.


Sam Koim, former Chairman of Task Force Sweep.

Sam Koim, former Chairman of Task Force Sweep.

In the past two weeks, the National Executive Council, PNG’s cabinet, has sacked Attorney General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua, disbanded the anti-corruption body Investigation Task Force Sweep and replaced several leading police, including Police Commissioner Toami Kulunga and Acting Assistant Commissioner for Crimes, Thomas Eluh.

The impetus for the sackings appears to be a letter sent by Sam Koim (the now-former Chairman of Task Force Sweep) to Kulunga claiming new evidence had emerged implicating the Prime Minister O’Neill in the authorising of fraudulent payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers.

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The Prime Minster has vehemently denied the allegations. He has further suggested the issuing of the arrest warrant was a ‘Major Political Plot, by self serving people to bring down the Government for their own greed’. His lawyers have applied for a stay on the arrest warrant due to be ruled on today.


Protests in Port Moresby on Tuesday and Thursday went off without major public disturbance. A protest is expected in Lae today.

Nevertheless, Port Moresby yesterday was in a state of lockdown, with a heavy police presence reported in the Government district of Waigani, as law enforcement agencies looked to discourage and contain any public protests. Ostensibly, the goal is to maintain order during the 5th Melanesian Festival of the Arts and Culture, which started yesterday.

Hearings at PNG’s National Court to accept or reject the Prime Minister’s application for stay on the arrest warrant have been postponed until Tuesday 1 July.

‘Parakagate’: a timeline


  • 13 May  Prime Minister O’Neill issues a directive to Investigation Task Force Sweep to investigate K71.8 million paid by the PNG Government to Paul Paraka Lawyers between February 2012 and May 2013
  • 23 October  Lawyer Paul Paraka and two others arrested on related fraud charges


  • 17 January  Task Force Sweep says it has no case against Prime Minister O’Neill in the ‘Parakagate’ investigation.
  • 5 May  Task Force Sweep Chairman Sam Koim writes a ‘very confidential’ letter, subsequently leaked anonymously to SBS, to Police Commissioner Toami Kulunga advising that new evidence has come to light.
  • 16 June  An arrest warrant is served on the Prime Minister
  • 16 June  Police Commissioner Toami Kulunga is retired by the NEC.
  • 17 June  Attorney-General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua is sacked and relaced by Ano Pala
  • 18 June  NEC sacks Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Simon Kauba and Sam Koim, Chairman of anti-corruption body Investigation Task Force Sweep, and disbands the task force. O’Neill claims it is ‘politically compromised’.
  • 21 June  Police prosecutor, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Crimes, Thomas Eluh is sacked.
  • 24 June  Peaceful protests in Port Moresby.
  • 25 June  Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she will express concern about the situation to her PNG counterpart, Rimbink Pato.
  • 26 June  Prime Minister O’Neill announces the establishment of a new anti-corruption body, to be chaired by retired Australian judge, Graham Ellis.
  • 26 June  PNG’s Ombudsman Commission steps in to prevent new Police Commisioner, Geoffrey Vaki, from suspending police director for fraud and anti-corruption Mathew Damaru and his assistant, Timothy Gitua.
  • 1 July  National Court due to consider the PM’s application for a stay on the arrest warrant, after three previous postponements.

Business confidence

Executive Director of the Institute of National Affairs Paul Barker told Business Advantage PNG that the recent developments ‘could undermine the perception that there is a commitment to improving law and order in PNG.’

‘The bringing in of Australian police advisers, increasing the budget allocation for the police force, the established of task Force Sweep and a commitment to establishing an Independent Commission on Corruption were all commitments in the right direction,’ he said.

‘As the INA’s recent survey of business indicated, respect for law and order and a transparency in its institutions is crucial for business confidence.’

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