Below is the letter written by Sam Koim of the Task Force Sweep Team to police heads, revealing fresh evidence against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for his alleged involvement in the Paul Paraka million kina fraud.
My Dear Commissioner,
RE: REASSESSMENT OF INVESTIGATIONS INTO ALLEGATION OF FRAUDULENT PAYMENTS TO PAUL PARAKA LAWYERS – PETER O’NEILL’S INVOLVEMENT
This letter notifies you of the change of position from my previous letter to you dated 14th January 2014. The foregoing paragraphs contain the brief of our reassessment of the case as against Peter O’Neill in light of fresh evidence that have now become available.
In my previous letter, I briefed you of the findings of Task-Force Sweep as against Hon Peter O’Neill, Hon Don Polye, Hon James Marape and Mr Steven Gibson. I did indicate that based on our investigation, the payments made to Paraka Lawyers were illegal and fraudulent. We recommended that Messrs Polye, Marape and Gibson be charged for their respective and joint roles as there were sufficient evidences to proceed against them.
In respect of the case against the Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neill, we found at that material time that there was no other evidence linking him apart from the alleged letter of 24th January 2012 which he openly denied authoring or signing it. Forensic test of the signature of PM O’Neill was not available at that time. We found that a case of fraud against Mr O’Neill on the basis of the questionable letter alone was unsustainable. We however advised that as the investigations into the allegations of fraudulent payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers were continuing, we would advise if there is fresh evidence warranting a review of the case against the Prime Minister.
As you are aware, we have now received the Forensic Examination Report from the Sydney based Forensic Document Services Pty Ltd confirming that the signature on the letter dated 24th January 2012 bearing the Prime Minister’s letterhead, name and signature directing payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers is PM O’Neill’s.
We have also received a subsequent letter by PM O’Neill to Hon James Marape copied to Hon Kerenga Kua and Hon Don Polye dated 15th May 2013. In that letter, PM O’Neill attempted to clarify his previous letter of 24th January 2012 and in doing so, confirms the existence of the first letter of 24th January 2012 which he openly denied. That subsequent letter was produced by Hon Don Polye together with his sworn statement of 29th April 2014.
Mr Polye revealed a number of new evidence and information that drew our attention to collect further evidence so as to independently verify the assertions made. The information contained in his sworn statements had been corroborated with other evidence already available and subsequently obtained.
Upon reassessing the case in light of the fresh evidence, we are of the firmest believe that PM O’Neill’s denial of authoring and/or signing the directive letter of 24th January 2012 for Paraka Lawyers payments can no longer hold water. There are corroborating evidences that confirm not only that he authored the directive, but also confirm that he intended to settle Paraka Lawyers purported outstanding legal bills.
We have found that PM O’Neill had knowledge of the Paraka Lawyers operations and the controversy surrounding the purported legal bills prior to issuing the written directive on 24th January 2012. Evidence indicates that under his watch as the Minister for Finance and Treasurer between July 2010 and June 2011 in the then Somare Government, a staggering amount of K39.06 million was paid to Paul Paraka Lawyers through structured and layered payments.
Mr Paul Paraka knew his purported bills were illegal and fraudulent hence would not pass the judicious vetting process at the Department of Justice and Attorney General hence would not submit his bills for vetting. Mr Paraka was also under extreme pressure as he was sustaining his relatively huge operational expenses out of bank overdrafts. As at the date of the PM O’Neill’s directive of 24th January 2012, Paraka Lawyers main operating account was in red by a negative balance of -K8,071,040.11. Mr Paraka was desperate for money, had the political connections and seized the opportunity.
It is apparent that Mr Paraka’s desperateness reverberates in PM O’Neill’s directive of 24th January 2012. PM O’Neill’s of directive 24th January 2012 was succinct, prescriptive and threaded with absolute sense of urgency. His directive compelled every public officer in the Department of Finance and Treasury to improperly draw funds from the Court order votes and when the court order vote was fully exhausted, payments were made out of reserve trust accounts without the requisite warrant authorities from Department of Treasury, thereby breaking all laws and existing lawful processes. There is no evidence of subjecting Paul Paraka Lawyers’ legal bills to the established vetting processes administered by Department of Justice and Attorney General.
PM O’Neill’s conscious directive was the cause and continued to be the operating cause for the payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers between February 2012 and May 2013, a sum of K80 million. There is causal link suggesting that when PM O’Neill stated in his directive letter of 24th January 2012 to “have all the outstanding legal bills owed to Paraka Lawyers settled forthwith”, he meant K80 million, a fact Mr Paul Paraka himself acknowledged.
Throughout the course of the payments to Paraka Lawyers between February 2012 and May 2013, PM O’Neill was abundantly kept informed not only of the ongoing payments to Paraka Lawyers, but more so, of the impropriety of the payments. There were amble red flags with opportunity to intervene. PM O’Neill was in a position to severe the continuing influence of his original directive but did not take any practical steps to do so.
PM O’Neill’s directive of 13th May 2013 for ITFS to investigate the allegations and his subsequent letter dated 15th May 2013 explaining his previous letter of 24th January 2013 cannot be taken as an “intervention” for the obvious reason that they are all written after Paraka Lawyers had collected all its “outstanding bills”. Those acts came after the criminal act as intended had been committed fully –the payment of K80 million.
After reassessing the case and analysing the available evidentiary materials, we have reached a considered belief that PM O’Neill acted dishonestly and corruptly when he directed Paul Paraka Lawyers outstanding legal bills to be settled in full. A conspiratorial line between Mr Paul Paraka and PM O’Neill is also visible from our analysis.
Based on our considered finding, there is more than sufficient evidence to mount a case of misappropriation, conspiracy to defraud and official corruption against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. The detailed analysis of the evidence is enclosed herein for your consideration and appropriate action.
Sam Koim, LLB [Hons]