4 May 2006

PNG police arrest official over cheque fraud

1:43 pm on 4 May 2006

Papua New Guinea police have arrested a senior Department of Finance officer and charged him with misappropriation and conspiracy to defraud the state of over 330,000 US dollars.

The Post Courier reports that the expenditure controller at the department's public accounts division, Boas Hembehi, has been remanded in custody at the Boroko police station.

He faces two counts of misappropriation and two counts of conspiracy to defraud the state between August and September 2004.

The charges stem from a missing royalty payment of 334,000 dollars intended for landowners of a Musau Island forestry project in New Ireland Province.

Police allege that when the matter was raised, certain officers within the department claimed they had cancelled the cheque.

This resulted in the department raising another cheque for over 167,000 dollars.

Investigations initiated by the department revealed the first cheque had actually been paid, and a double payment had been made.