ONGOING investigations into alleged misuse of millions of kina of state funds in the National Planning Department have led to the weekend arrest of a married couple in Kokopo, East New Britain, The National reports.
The man was reportedly a former executive officer of former national planning and monitoring minister Paul Tiensten.
Torch Bearer Productions Ltd managing director Chris Hulape and wife Agnes Frank-Hulape, who is a shareholder of the company, had been charged with misappropriation and stealing under false pretence.
The arrest by the Task Force Sweep team was in relation to more than K1 million funding for a resource centre and three markets for Kiriwina-Goodenough district in Milne Bay.
The task force members alleged that the couple applied for and received K1.6 million (cheque No.000036 in February for Kiriwina-Good­enough Community Resource and Learning Centre (K600,000) and
the Kiriwina-Goodenough Strategic Market De­velopment Project (K1 million).
Police investigations had revealed that no such projects had taken place, culminating in their arrest on Saturday.
Hulape, 34, of Vailala Hilo village in Kikori, Gulf province, had been refused bail while wife Frank-Hulape, 34, of Rabuana, Rabaul, was charged, detained and released as she is pregnant.
Both would appear before the Kokopo District Court this morning.
Operation Sweep team chairman Simon Koim said in a statement last night that the couple was innocent under the law until proven guilty.
“They will now go through the normal criminal process in court to prove their innocence on the charges laid against them,” he said.
Hulape was tracked down early this month after he allegedly discharged a firearm in public in Kokopo.
Police are still investigating this incident and another alleged misappropriation of K1.5 million for a Gulf school.
Hulape, in a statement yesterday, said the pro­ject submission for building of a resource centre and three markets were supported by a letter signed by the Member for Kiriwina-Goodenough Jack Cameron.
He said the MP and the district administrator formalised the arrangement through a contract signed between Kiriwina-Goodenough district administration and Torch Bearer Productions Ltd.
He said the resource centre was completed and based on Cameron’s request, the funds were released to his preferred sub-contractor accordingly.
“The MP then made numerous requests for Torch Bearer Productions Ltd to off load the remaining project funds to his family company so that they could implement the market project, Hulape claimed.
“This would then be clearly a breach of the contract by Cameron.”
Hulape said a letter signed by the MP, the district administrator and district treasurer cancelling Torch Bearer Productions Ltd’s contract was sent to him saying this was because of delays in completing the project.
A copy of the letter cancelling the contract was sent to the task force team.
Hulape expressed concern that Koim was conducting premature investigations on some well-meaning projects secured through the national go­vernment such as his Kiriwina-Goodenough one.
“This questions the legitimacy and motive of the team and if it is really serving national interest or the interest of a few.”
“The National Planning cheque for K1.6 million was printed on March 1, 2011, and was collected by us in
April and banked in May.”