PNG leader Michael Somare and son asked to explain
By Peter Michael November 05, 2008 11:00pm
PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his son Arthur have been asked to explain how they obtained a luxury inner-city unit and a new $685,000 beach house.
Documents have emerged linking the PNG Grand Chief and his powerbroker son to the real estate.
PNG's anti-corruption watchdog, the Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta, and former finance minister Bart Philemon yesterday said it had to be asked where the money had come from.
Ombudsman Commission legal counsel Vergil Narokobi, one of the top three most senior officials with the anti-corruption watchdog, said they would investigate.
"It is quite possible it is legitimate," Mr Narokobi said.
"We will look to see if there were any breaches of the leadership code.
"To afford such luxuries it is not something ordinary Papua New Guineans can do. It is a situation of unfairness, but that is my own personal view.
"We have to give them the benefit of doubt. On the face of it we will respect our leaders until the contrary is shown."
Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail show Sir Michael obtained a $349,000 three-bedroom executive-style apartment with private plunge pool in inner-city Cairns in April last year, in a deal brokered by a Gold Coast lawyer.
Two months ago, Arthur Somare, who is PNG's State Enterprise Minister and a political heavyweight, bought a $685,000 four-bedroom home with his wife at
Mr Somare, who plans to move his family to Australia to live, has just sealed a US$20 billion deal over access to PNG's liquid natural gas reserves with a consortium from the Middle East.
Agents for the unit's sale said it was bought at the time of last year's PNG election after protracted negotiations. The vendor, R & H Constructions (Qld) Pty Ltd, went bankrupt while building the $5 million unit block - with no trace of former directors.
Sir Michael, who was in Cairns last week for a historic address to Queensland Parliament, declined a request for an interview and did not respond to a series of written questions.
His son Arthur also did not respond to questions about his new property.
Sir Michael, who has refused to provide details of his overseas assets since 1992 under the leadership code, is fighting a Supreme Court action against the Ombudsman Commission.
Opposition Leader Sir Mekere said the Somare family owed it to the PNG people to reveal their assets.
"They should both publicly explain how they obtained this real estate," said Sir Mekere, who this year bought a $3.6 million riverfront mansion at New Farm in
Former finance minister and anti-graft campaigner Mr Philemon said: "They have got to tell people in PNG how they funded those properties, otherwise it smells like corruption.
Source: Courier Mail: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24606853-3102,00.html