Thursday, December 02, 2010

Worthless cheque!

MP pays K10,000 for K12.4m bogus cheque




MEMBER for Telefomin Peter Iwei followed instructions and paid K10,000 into an account at a bank in Port Moresby, so that an official at the Department of National Planning will release a cheque for K12.4 million, The National reports.

Iwei was told he had until 4.06pm on Nov 19 to pay the money into the account, or the K12.4 million deal would be off.

Iwei identified by name the person who instructed him to pay the K10,000.

He said he really wanted the money for his projects, so he got his wife to pay K10,000 of their own money into this account on Nov 19.

Iwei produced the butt of the deposit slip, which showed the K10,000 being deposited into a Westpac bank account number 600099061. The bearer of that account was a Susan Boga.

Iwei said on Nov 29, he received a fax from the official at the Department of National Planning.

The fax was a Department of National Planning and Monitoring remittance advice, dated Nov 25. It said a cheque number 901973 for K12.4 million was raised in favour of Tatoo Pacific Consultants, a firm that the MP had retained for projects in his electorate.

Of the K12.4 million, K2.4 million was for Telefomin market rehabilitation while K10 million would be for the Telefomin hospital project.

Iwei and his consultant went to the bank, with the photocopied remittance advice, and were told that the cheque was worthless.

He was told that the cheque was bogus, or fake.

He immediately informed National Planning secretary Joseph Lelang to look into this.

“A highly organised syndicate is operating within the Department of National Planning, collecting commission in thousands of kina in return for the release of government development grants.

“This is corruption, and something has to be done quickly.

“There is a lot of leak and stealing in Waigani, and people in the villages are suffering,” he said.

Lelang told The National yesterday a major corruption ring might be operating from Vulupindi House.

“I believe it might involve some of my staff,” he admitted when pressed if people close to him were involved.

Lelang said he had received 10 other complaints regarding a person in the department demanding payment into this account at Westpac before cheques could be delivered to MPs.

“I have written to police to take action on this. I do not know what has happened to date.”

He said it appeared the same person was demanding K30,000 from a company doing a project in Madang before a cheque of K5 million could be released.

A previous complaint from the board of a school in Erima prompted Lelang to call in police, resulting in the arrest of at least three people, two of them employees at Vulupindi House.

This is not the first time Iwei has had issue with public funds at his disposal.

On Monday, he picked up a K1 million cheque for his electorate but lost it in a taxi.

He had still not recovered the cheque.

Iwei had asked the Finance Department to put a stop on the cheque.



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