By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
Francis Potape has been sentenced to serve two years and six months in prison.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika handed down the decision this afternoon.
The former Petroleum and Energy Minister was found guilty of conspiring and misusing K330,000; he was convicted in October last year.
The money was taken from the District Services Improvement Programme (DSIP) and used to pay allowances to Potape and nine district officers.
Of that money, Potape received K60,000 while the district officers, including the district administrator and district treasurer, received K30,000 each.
In handing down the sentence, presiding Judge Justice Gibbs Salika said this country has a lot of precious natural resources that everyone should benefit from. In order for this to happen, our leaders must be committed to honesty.
In November 2010, Potape, then Chairman of the Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee (JDPBPC) and nine committee members passed a resolution to increase their sitting allowance and pay themselves out of the DSIP funds.
These one-off payments were to cover sitting allowances allegedly owed to them between 2009 and 2010.
The MP was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to defraud the state and two counts of misappropriation and was sentenced respectively.
On the first count of conspiracy to defraud the state and the second count of misappropriation of K60,000, he was sentenced to three years’ hard labour each.
He received five years of hard labour for the third count of misappropriating K330,000. Justice Salika ruled that all these sentences would be served at the same time; thus, five years was the maximum amount of years Potape was to serve before his sentencing was reduced to two years, six months as he had repaid the full amount of K330,000.