4 Jul 2006

PNG landowners group says governor falsely accused of mishandling funds

7:32 pm on 4 July 2006

A landowners group in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands says allegations the provincial governor mishandled landowner benefits are false.

Hami Yawari is alleged to have misappropriated money from a local government authority and could face disciplinary action from the Leadership Tribunal.

However the Foe Landowners Association is threatening to shut down key energy projects, including the Kutubu oil field, on their lands, unless the Ombudsman Commission withdraws its referral of Mr Yawari to the public prosecutor.

They've also threatened to stop negotiation on the proposed PNG-Queensland gas pipeline set to feed off their fields.

The Association's executive officer Roy Magari says Mr Yawari, as the principal landowner, has not done anything wrong...

"They said he misappropriated landowners benefits, the landowners money, but that is not the correct information. He's been given the powers to distribute equity, royalties and other benefits that are deriving from the Kutubu project. He's still wearing the landowners cap."

Roy Magari says landowner representatives are planning to travel to Port Moresby to protest to the central government.