Kuni Bimundi asked a valid question today as to who pays for Peter O’Neill’s Legal Bills. Greg Sheppard asked me to pass on his answer below:
I am Greg Sheppard, the lawyer you defamed on your facebook page today. You will be hearing more from me later about those false allegations, but in the meantime, I wanted to respond to your question “Who is paying O’Neill’s legal fees?” I am uniquely placed, as you no doubt realise, to answer that question. I am also uniquely placed to answer the other disgraceful slurs you have made against me, but that is not the subject of today’s communication.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a facebook account, so I am very grateful to Emmanuel Narokobi for allowing me to post reply this on Sharp Talk. This is my maiden posting so please be gentle.
Kuni, you have asked a very fair question and the Prime Minister wanted me to give you a full, frank and transparent answer. The complete answer to your question is this: The Independent State of Papua New Guinea, with the full written authority of the Attorney General of Papua New Guinea. So there you have it. If there is anything else, you be sure to let me know. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to clear this issue up once and for all.
You know, coincidentally, I have asked exactly the same question in relation to the legal fees of Sam Koim and his officers Damaru and Gitua! Unfortunately, they are not as transparent in this regard as the Prime Minister. In fact, they have declined to disclose the source of their funding for the expensive court cases they are maintaining. We have been forced to ask the court to make them provide us with this information.
Many of us find this perplexing, and disturbing.
Sam Koim, for example, has made an industry out of pointing the finger at public officials in PNG who have apparently “unexplained wealth”.
“Put all Public Officials (politicians and public servants) on a “Means Test”. Then you would know who has unjustly enriched and who is vulnerable to bribery.”
“PNG also suffers from a number of legislative gaps. There are obvious examples where public officials openly display the proceeds of corruption. We need an unexplained wealth legislative framework to conduct a means test on those public officials.”
It’s a fair call as everyone would agree. But what about him?
Recent comments by him in the social media give rise to a serious cause for concern about Koim and by necessary implication Damaru and Gitua in this regard.
For example, on the 4th August 2015 Sam Koim posted a comment on his facebook accountwhich “celebrated” his “one year of Working without salary.” He also lamented the defunding of Independent Task Force Sweep (“ITFS”) for the second year running. Like many of Koim’s original facebook contributions, it was weirdly self-righteous, completely self-serving, and as it turns out, deceptive and misleading
Koim, however also made this remarkable comment:-
“There were many who called for crowd funding. Although it seemed a viable option, we were hesitant and held it on (sic) for a year now.”
Is he serious? Sam Koim considers the private funding of official ITFS operations “a viable option”? Frankly, this is very worrying. It is also highly questionable in terms of public integrity for the administration of anti-corruption agencies.
Koim is the holder of a high profile public office. He is Chairman of ITFS. He is charged with the performance of a public duty; to impartially, without fear or favour investigate and prosecute criminal acts of corruption. It is absurd for such a person to consider that private funding of ITFS is “a viable option”. What was he thinking?
Maybe Koim discussed “crowd funding” as “a viable option” for anti-corruption agencies when he visited the Centre for the Advancement of Public Integrity at the Colombia Law School on 6th August this year. That’s doubtful, because such an arrangement would plainly and obviously be an abuse of official power, and contrary to the advancement of public integrity. It would also be contrary to the criminal law of PNG, and it would be corrupt.
Kuni, am I getting through to you? Do you take my point here? But wait! There’s more.
Further examination of Koim’s facebook postings reveals other disturbing material.
On 15 December 2014, he gave the following “Christmas gift to PNG”-
Dear all concerned Papua New Guineans and others who offered to assist me financially after learning of my removal from salary.
Thank you all for your kind offers to help. I have however purposed (sic) in my heart not to accept your kind offers. This is the price I and my family would like to pay for our beautiful country -to see a corruption free PNG. This is a seed that I believe will germinate and replicate in the lives of many PNGeans. It is therefore my Christmas gift to PNG.
May you all have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year.
God Bless PNG
Koim has consistently but falsely tried to portray his removal from the government payroll as a corrupt attempt by the forces of evil to shut down his investigations.
Here’s what he told the ABC’s PM program on 5th September 2014.
SAM KOIM: I just learnt that I was taken off the payroll a number of fortnights ago.
LIAM COCHRANE: Sam Koim says he has not been told why his pay was cut.
SAM KOIM: No, no explanation. I haven’t received any suspension notice. I haven’t received any disciplinary notice. No nothing. I enquired with the department and they’re quite tight-lipped on what actually is the reason.
If this were true, it would be a shocking political attack on an independent anti-corruption watchdog, and draw condemnation from all right minded members of the public. However, the problem is it is just not true.
Koim’s so called “removal from salary” was simply because his contract had expired, nothing else. This was actually revealed, somewhat casually, later in the same interview.
LIAM COCHRANE He [Koim] says his contract did run out about the same time his pay stopped…
Being taken off the payroll in the ordinary course of public administration because your employment contract has expired is of course, a totally different scenario to that portrayed by Koim: If we were to believe Koim’s comments to the ABC, he was the victim of a darkly sinister attempt by the forces of corruption to shut down his investigations. The Australian press however has no appetite (for the time being) for the truth! Koim’s nonsense is much more newsworthy.
Koim’s position on this issue is ridiculous. He didn’t expect to receive his salary after his contract expired, did he? If proper procedures weren’t followed in that regard, as he claims, he could have sued the State for damages for breach of contract. However, in his hubris, he deliberately chose not to pursue that claim.
SAM KOIM My view about all of this is I didn’t fight for this lousy salary. The fight that we we’re fighting is bigger than that lousy salary. It’s a cause that is far greater than that pay parcel. If these people want to stoop down too low to think that they can go and touch that and I can back off, I will not (sic).
Koim’s public comments and facebook postings about being “removed from salary” were fundamentally false and misleading. He wasn’t “removed from salary”, his contract of employment expired. He didn’t apply to renew it, and he took no action to enforce it. He accepted it. He said didn’t want to fight for his “lousy salary” (which incidentally was over K80, 000 per annum including allowances).
If he was honest, Koim should have acknowledged that the State were perfectly justified in taking the action that they did on the expiry of his contract of employment, and in fact, were obliged to do so. There was no shadow of a plot, by the forces of evil close down his investigation, except in Koim’s imagination.
Predictably, Koim’s misleading facebook posting provoked an outpouring of misguided and unjustified support for Koim on social media, including this –
Nita Andrew Jesus style of leadership. Laying one’s life down for the good of others. Thanks bro Sam, you my hero. God bless you and your family during this festive season
Apparently, Nita Andrew believes that if Jesus had let his employment contract expire, He would have exercised His leadership by telling lies on His facebook account, just like Koim did. Can I digress slightly to respectfully advise the intelligentsia of Koim’s facebook followers that they ought to be very, very weary of those who say they are prepared to die for the good of others. They generally make others die with them, often before them, and even more often, instead of them.
There were however some more practical suggestions.
Tgw Bari He is a modest man and a man of principles…. Therefore he refuses the Public’s assistance. However, in the interest of Justice and the continuity of our community’s Fight against corruption, I still feel that we (public) should continue the financial assistance. I have offered my services to collect and pass on the public donations to Sam Koim and his Tasm Force Sweep Team. That is a suggestion for your consideration and approval. FYI only… Namo.
Jessy Pendene I wonder could donor agencies such as AUSAID, UN and others fund the office of Mr Koim to continue the good work they are doing if they are genuine in assisting towards maintaining and promoting png’s democracy.
Serious questions about Koim’s integrity immediately arises from these postings and comments.
Koim insists in the media that the work of ITFS is continuing (and has a stay order from the Courts to prove it). However, since ITFS was defunded two years ago, and since Koim has not been paid any salary for a year, who is funding ITFS and Koim?
Koim is no longer reporting to the NEC, the Commissioner for Police or any other proper authority. It would appear that he is accountable to no-one! He is not transparent because there is no administrative oversight of his work or his expenditures. Nor can he be seen to be “independent” because he must be receiving funding from an undisclosed source, which he refuses to reveal.
Why doesn’t this attract a maelstrom of disapproval from the mainstream?
It appears that Koim is not a solution to the problem, he is new and dangerous part of the problem. He is not an independent anti-corruption watchdog, he is a vigilante, acting without proper authority or oversight.
Mr Koim, should give PNG another early Christmas Gift this year by answering these questions.
• Are you privately funded by secret benefactors?
• If so who are they?
• If not please explain how else could you have possibly survived as chairman of a “defunded” ITFS, while living in Port Moresby, “without salary”?
• What is the source of your unexplained wealth or income that enables him to do this?
Koim’s current explanation on facebook assumes that we are all fools.
“God has His divine ways of looking after his children.”
Koim may very well need to invoke the supernatural to cover up the reality of this seemingly impossible achievement, but his unexplained wealth will certainly have more temporal origins than he is suggesting.
Having raised the issue of his lack of salary himself for the purpose of his own self- aggrandisement, he clearly owes all of us a better explanation than that which he offered to the intelligentsia of his facebook cohorts.
Mr Koim should be able to clear this up immediately. Can he please explain (and verify by reference to, and the production of, vouchers, receipts and cheque butts, credit card statements, etc) –
• who pays for his business class travel overseas?
• who pays the costs of his accommodation and daily expenses while he is overseas?
• does he operate any overseas bank accounts?
• who pays for the foreign counsel he engages for all his court cases at approximately $A6000 per day, and how are such payment done?
• who pays for foreign counsel’s airfare, accommodation in a suite at the Grand Papua Hotel ($A800 per day) and his daily and ancillary expenses?
• who pays for his local lawyers, and their disbursements and how are these payments done?
• who pays his grocery bills and other expenses of his household each week if he has had no salary for 12 months or more?
• finally, has he or have any members of his family directly or indirectly received or obtained any benefits for himself on account of the discharge of his duties in his office as Chairman of ITFS?
This is not trivial or vexatious issue. Nor is it nebulous. It is specific and serious.
Koim, who touts himself as the foremost corruption fighter in PNG not only has to be above reproach, he has to manifestly be seen to be above reproach.
Further, it is not unreasonable to ask Koim to provide this information. He has as I have already pointed out been very vigorous in advocated such disclosures by others. Let hope Koim doesn’t add hypocrite to his burgeoning list of shortcomings.
Koim, as he repeatedly claims is on a mission from God, which we should appreciate and respect. However, his zealotry seems to thrive in proportion to the quantity of contradictions and nonsense he pours down the throats of his adoring cohorts, and the jargon and mysticism it offers to their religious and political desires, and their credulity.
Kuni, you were good enough to ask your simple the question of the Prime Minister, and he instructed me in good grace to answer it, which I have now done. It’s a simple question: “Who is paying?” I agree with you that the public has an interest in knowing. I wonder if Messrs Koim, Damaru and Gitua can answer the same question, for the same reason. If they choose not to (as is their right) we may well be inspired to ask “Well, what are they hiding?”
Finally, Sam Koim has also commented on his same facebook page that “Australian taxpayers are lucky their leaders rarely cloak themselves with the “innocent until proven guilty” defense. (sic)”
Let’s hope PNG taxpayers can enjoy the same good fortune from Sam Koim.