News Release: 02nd March 2024

Payments made by the State to Paul Paraka Lawyers and nominated private legal firms legal between 2007 and 2013 has been the subject of comprehensive investigation.

This is an ongoing matter with several accused still to be fully processed through the court system and a verdict reached on each case.

The scale of this case in terms of the misuse of public money, as was confirmed in court in the judgment against Paraka, is massive and there is understandably high levels of public outrage.

At the same time there is great concern at the way some individuals are trying to misuse the court process for personal political gain, and this has to stop so as to not compromise ongoing prosecutions. It is more than a decade since the original complaint was filed by the former Solicitor General with National Fraud &Anti-Corruption Directorate of RPNGC. This was on the 14th of March 2012 against the Department of Justice &Attorney General and the Department of Finance.

However, upon my appointment as Commissioner in 2019 I directed that investigations into the allegations receive the appropriate focus considering the magnitude of the matter.

The first case to go to trial was State Vs Paul Paraka with Paraka being found guilty at the Waigani National Court and serving custodial sentence in prison.

The prosecution of other alleged offenders is proceeding but each case must be heard fully aired in court so as to not undermine subsequent investigations and trials.

As such everyone must follow court processes and in particular treat relevant individuals as state witnesses while prior cases are being processed.

It is imperative that State Witnesses are not interfered with, and accusations motivated by politics are not made and circulated online that could undermine upcoming or potential trials.

Page 1 The 2012 complaint alleged that the two departments were responsible for substantial payments without proper vetting to Paul Paraka Lawyers, and various other law firms, without properly vetting legal bill claims.

This has led to a number of ongoing investigations and charges being laid under the Criminal Code Act against several Principals of the nominated private law firms and government officials.

Observing proper legal proceedings is paramount in order to ensure justice is carried out and prosecutions are successful. The investigation into alleged payment of dubious legal bills to Paul Paraka Lawyers and nominees by Department of Finance from 2007 to 2011 was conducted by Investigation Task Force Sweep Forensic Auditors and Detective Fraud Investigators.