PANGU GOVT SERIOUS IN FIGHTING GRAFT
The Proceeds of Crime Bill 2022, which was passed in the last session of Parliament, shows how serious his Government is about fighting corruption, Prime Minister James Marape says.
The Marape Government made a major breakthrough in the ongoing fight against corruption in Papua New Guinea with passage of the bill on April 21, under which public officials – politicians and public servants – must explain and prove that their wealth was legitimately obtained.
I made a commitment to this nation, when I became Prime Minister in May 2019, that we will fight corruption.Those who hold public offices, and illegally gain wealth through corrupt practices, will now come under scrutiny with passage of this bill. My Government is serious about fighting corruption as shown by passage of the Whistle Blowers’ Act and establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 2020 and now this Proceeds of Crime Bill – which completes the trifecta of anti-corruption laws.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2022:
• The unexplained wealth provisions will apply to “public officials” as given the meaning under the Organic Law on Independent Commission Against Corruption;
• The State may apply to the Court for an “unexplained wealth order” against a public official. This application may be made in conjunction with an application for a restraining order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2022, or at any other time. That is, a restraining order does not need to have been made in order to apply for an unexplained wealth declaration;
• The Court must make an order against a public official if the court is satisfied that there is reasonable suspicion that:
– The public official has engaged in one or more indictable offence related activities; or
– The public official has acquired, without giving sufficient consideration, property derived from an indictable offence related activity of someone else, whether or not the person knew or suspected the property was derived from illegal activity; and,
– Any of the public official’s current or previous wealth was acquired unlawfully.
“This means that if you are a politician or public servant, or any ordinary citizen who suddenly has many houses or many cars, or a fat bank account with no explanation as to where this money came from, then Police and Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) have every right to question you,” PM Marape said.
“If you have earned this honestly, then there is nothing for you to be fearful about, as you have done nothing wrong or illegal.
“We want a population made up of people who are earning an honest living.
“Gone are the days when we used to allow corruption to proliferate among us
“In my view, there is no point in me fighting to take back more from Porgera Mine, when the sinkhole in Waigani remains with public funds being squandered through corruption, waste and bribery.”
PM Marape thanked all MPs who sat with him in the marathon 12-hour session on April 21 for ensuring that this law was passed.
“These are true leaders who put the country’s interests ahead of self,” he said.