PNG’s Prime Minister Served With Arrest Warrant

Peter O’Neill is refusing to turn himself in for questioning in relation to a corruption investigation.

PNG’s Prime Minister Served With Arrest Warrant
Credit: APEC 2013 via Flickr.com

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has refused to turn himself into police for questioning after yesterday being served an arrest warrant in relation a corruption investigation.

A defiant O’Neil told Australian broadcaster SBS last night that the arrest warrant was politically motivated. He denied any wrongdoing.

He claimed, “There is a lot of political movement in the country. The opposition leader and disgruntled members of parliament are using any avenue possible to try and discredit government and of course find a way to have me arrested.”

While O’Neill is refusing to turn himself into police he has vowed to defend himself in court. “We have strong confidence in the judiciary up here, there is a very vibrant judiciary that will hear the matter and the truth will come out,” he told SBS.

However, director of police crimes Thomas Eluh said that the police fully intend to arrest O’Neill if he doesn’t come in voluntarily.

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The allegations center around a letter that is alleged to have been signed by O’Neill. The documents are said to have helped a legal firm headed by now disgraced PNG lawyer Paul Parka to illegally bill the government for millions of dollars.

The PNG finance ministry is said to have signed off on dozens of fraudulent payments to Paraka Lawyers. In February this year, it was revealed that Parka had transferred around A$3 million ($2.8 million) to Australian bank accounts.

O’Neil claims that the documents linking him to the former lawyer are forged, although Fairfax media in Australia is reporting that a Sydney-based private forensic experts team has analyzed the documents and believes that the prime minister did sign them.

The prime minister has previously faced the corruption watchdog in relation to the same documents. However investigations were dropped in January this year after the police said there was no proof that the documents were legitimate.

On the same matter, former finance secretary Steven Gibson was charged in January with conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office, and misappropriation.

O’Neill has meanwhile announced that a Commission of Inquiry will be formed to investigate the charges against him.