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April 18, 2021
News Papua New Guinea

More Arrests Made As Investigations Into WPPD CMCA Trust Funds Continue

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Two more arrests were made after continued investigations into the misappropriation and stealing of K268 Million belonging to Community Mine Continuation Agreement Communities in Western Province were carried out by Special Police Forensic Criminal Investigation Team headed by Police Commissioner David Manning.

Managing Partner of Young & Williams Lawyers Gregory Sheppard, was arrested and charged with two (2) counts of false pretense and another 2 counts of conspiracy, two weeks ago after his law firm was paid K52 Million from the WPPD CMCA Trust Funds as legal fees.

Two directors of Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation Limited (OTFRDF), Boston Kasiman and Annie Smerewai were arrested in Ningerum, sub-station of Kiunga in Western Province early Tuesday morning.

Both suspects were flown to Port Moresby to be interviewed and each were charged a total of 15 counts, these include 5 counts of false pretense, 5 counts of conspiracy and 5 counts of misappropriation.

Police confirmed that Annie Smerewai had been the director of OTFRDF since the company’s inception on 23rd September 2016, and Boston Kasiman was appointed director on 10th of July 2019.

A search through the company’s records held with Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) had noted that mandatory forms required by Companies Act 1997, that must be completed and lodged when registering an entity, appointing directors, secretary, shareholders and changing company’s addresses were never completed and lodged with IPA. There were no records found for years covering 2016 to 2020.

The changes in the company’s records were simply made online by the company’s appointed agent Samson Jubi who at the time was residing in Cairns, Australia.

Police say, the absence of the compulsory company forms and the manner in which the directors, shareholders, and secretary of OTFRDF were appointed are highly suspicious and questionable.

Police are now under the impression that the 147,000 plus people of CMCA Communities who are owners of the K268 Million WPPD CMCA Trust Funds never authorized the registration of OTFRDF and the appointment of its directors, secretary and shareholders.

Boston Kasiman and Annie Smerewai, who were among other directors, passed a number of Board Resolutions during two separate Board Meetings in Port Moresby in 2018 and 2019 to illegally pay a total of K268 Million out of the WPPD CMCA Trust Account held with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (PNG) Ltd.

The following payments were released after the Board Resolutions of the two Board Meeting Minutes, Approved Instruction Application Forms and other necessary documents were submitted to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (PNG) Ltd by OTFRDF for the following payments:

No. Date        Amount  Recipients                           Purpose

1).   7/8/18  –  K15m           Young & William Lawyers         Legal Fees

2).   4/9/18  –  K5m             OTFRDF Ltd                                 Inter. Draft & TT

3). 23/12/19 – K37m           Young & William Lawyers         Legal Fees

4). 2312/19  –  K21m          OTFRDF Ltd                                7 CMCA Regions

5). 21/2/20  –  K190m        OTFRDF Ltd                                 CMCA Family A/C

The whole amount withdrawn to date, adds up to K268,000,050.00.

The operations of the WPPD CMCA Trust Account held with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (PNG) Ltd is administered by the Trust Instrument underpinning the Trust Account.

The Instrument issued from time to time clearly stipulates that WPPD CMCA Trust Funds must only be used for funding development projects and programs implemented by Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation along the CMCA Communities in Western Province, and not for any other purpose.

The Instrument also outlines that the WPPD CMCA Trust Funds will only be released to Ok Tedi Development Foundation to undertake the approved projects and programs after all the requirements stated therein are satisfactorily complied and approved by the Minister for Mining.

Police established that the payments were withdrawn not in compliance with the requirements of the Trust Instrument and the expenditures were not consistent with the spirit, tenor and intended purpose of the WPPD CMCA Trust Funds, and used for purposes contrary to the CMCA beneficiaries.

Police also learnt that none of the directors including the two that were arrested are current formally recognized leaders of the CMCA Communities representing 147,000 people emanating from 158 villages along the CMCA Corridor in Western Province.

Police are now calling on the Chairman Steven Bagari, Secretary Samson Jubi and five other Directors of the purported entity OTFRDF to present themselves to the Special Police Forensic Criminal Investigation Team for appropriate inquiry.

Police Commissioner, David Manning, said the combined forensic and criminal investigation currently undertaken by the Police are also scrutinizing all payments that were made from K268 million to certain unrelated individuals and entities.

The payees will be asked to provide proof of goods and services that they delivered for the benefit of CMCA Communities, and inquired on how their goods and services were procured by OTFRDF.

Meanwhile, Commissioner, Manning today promised that the full force of the law and all resources at the Constabulary’s disposal will be brought to bear down upon policemen who continuously flaunt the law and aid and abet crime and criminals.

These comments come after recent threats were issued toward police detectives involved in the K286 million Ok Tedi investigations.

“We had two threats issued against police detectives. Criminals and policemen are involved. I will not stand for this and whether you are a criminal or a policeman who decides to engage or attack policemen you will be dealt with equally under lawful means.

“If you want to be a criminal or align yourself with individuals or entities and challenge the Police Force, then you have no place in the Police Force and I will ensure your speedy exit from the police force straight into prison,” said Manning.

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