Investigation Task Force Sweep Chairman, Sam Koim, says it has already taken steps to authenticate the Prime Minister’s signature on a letter written to the Finance Department in January of 2012 for the release of funds to Paul Paraka lawyers.
He says they have searched all avenues for the original copy of the letter without success.
This letter is the subject of much debate that is currently going on with bench warrants obtained to arrest the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, and 2 of his senior ministers.
Opposition Leader, Belden Namah, has been critical in the recent past, about the payment of 71.8 million kina to Paul Paraka Lawyers. Subsequently, he dragged the Prime Minister into this matter, alleging that the Prime Minister signed a letter on the 24th of January, 2012, for the release of funds to the said law firm.
He laid complaints with the police against Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, Finance Minister, James Marape, and Treasury Minister, Don Polye, for their alleged involvement in the payment.
Mr. Koim said in a statement that the Police Commissioner, Tom Kulunga, referred Namah’s complaints to Task force Sweep because they were already at an advanced stage of the investigations.
He said his team immediately conducted interviews with officers from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Finance and checked their outgoing correspondence and incoming correspondence registers respectively to verify the letter.
His team also searched all possible avenues including the Department of Treasury and banks for the original copy of the letter but couldn’t find it.
They have now forwarded a copy of that letter to signature experts to test the authenticity of the signature.
Mr. Koim therefore said it was a massive investigation and would take some time to complete.
He said further inquiries were conducted after Paraka Lawyers took out a paid advertisement alleging that they had outstanding legal fees that were not paid until the beginning of 2012.
Mr. Koim stated that after these inquiries show that payments made by the state to this law firm over seven years since 2007 runs into the hundreds of millions of kina and not just 71.8 million kina which was paid between February 2012 and May 2013.
He assured the public that his team was doing their best to see justice done and they will make sure no stone is left unturned.
Mr. Koim said he cannot say much about the warrants taken out by a police detective.
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