PM MARAPE URGED TO PROBE SINGAPORE ACCOUNT
Prime Minister James Marape has been petitioned to probe and inform the nation what corrective actions he has taken to deal with fraud allegations against a former Forest Minister of his Cabinet.
Namatanai MP, Walter Schnaubelt was alleged to have corruptly enriched himself with commissions out from close to K400 million of Log Export Levies belonging to the people of Papua New Guinea.
Former President of Konoagil Council in the Namatanai District, Philip Tuanusi, said the allegations raised in Parliament on February 23 2022 by Leader of Opposition, Belden Namah, relating to misuse of PNG’s Log Export Development Levy (LEDL) funds by the former forestry minister are very serious and must not be simply swept under the carpet to take a natural death.
Mr. Tuanusi said today that claims of a Singapore bank account operated by a former Forest Minister to park corruptly obtained money are compelling reason that obligated Prime Minister Marape to act swiftly in PNG’s national and public interest and in line with his theme of Take Back PNG.
“This is corruption at its worst and if a New Ireland Leader and Member of Parliament is found to be linked to this international fraud, he should be hanged and all the funds returned to the people,” said Tuanusi in a media statement today.
Tuanusi worked closely with the former Forest Minister Walter Schnaubelt in the Konoagil Council area as the Chairman of the Lak Landowners Association but walked out in protest when anticipated revenues from the timber operations were not forthcoming to the people and their association.
He noted with grave concerns allegations raised by Mr. Namah in Parliament and described them as very serious against a senior member of Mr. Marape’s Cabinet that warranted urgent corrective action.
Mr Namah had told Parliament that in 2021 a total of 700 shipments of log exports were made out of PNG, but no LEDL funds were paid to districts and provinces where logging took place.
“Vanimo Green River District did not receive a single toea of LEDL funds. I understand all other exporting districts also didn’t receive any LEDL funds,” he said.
Namah claimed that Logging companies have been held to ransom and forced to pay a minimum of K500,000.00 for a single log export permit by this State Minister who has been doing fundraising for himself and his political party.
He claimed that Logging companies were expected to pay in cash and part of the proceeds were remitted to banks accounts in Singapore, Indonesia, and Cayman Island. This particular individual has been milking the logging sector to raise funds for the 2022 general election, and if the numbers were correct, then someone has handsomely benefited from between K340-K400 million.
Meanwhile, Tuanusi said that as Chairman of the Landowners Association, he trusted the Minister for Forest but in the end, he walked out in disgust and today urged Prime Minister Marape to honor his public promises to not condone any conduct that amounted to corruptive acts and criminal in nature.
“If it is true the offender is the Member for Namatanai then Fraud, Ombudsman Commission, ICAC and Interpol should intervene and the Minister barred from contesting the coming National Elections. It is a big shame for the people of Namatanai and New Ireland,” concluded Mr. Tuanusi.