14 Sep 2006

Embattled governor in Papua New Guinea facing misappropriation and false pretences charges

7:53 pm on 14 September 2006

The governor of Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province has been arrested and charged with stealing public funds.

The charges follow a state of emergency being imposed in the resource-rich province to restore the collapsed provincial administration.

The state of emergency, announced by the government at the beginning of August, suspended governor Hami Yawari and his provincial government amid claims of corruption and mismanagement.

Police arrested Mr Yawari on Wednesday night in Port Moresby before releasing him on bail of 335 US dollars.

He has been charged with 22 counts of misappropriation and false pretences, relating back to 1999 and involving around 300 thousand US dollars of oil royalties owed to a community fund.

Mr Yawari has also been referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission for alleged misuse of local government funds.

The AAP news agency reports that Mr Yawari had been as notorious for handing out bundles of cash in the province to curry favour as roads, schools and health posts fell into disrepair.