8 May 2008

PNG PM seeks to stop ombudsman probe of his affairs

1:32 pm on 8 May 2008

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister is reportedly seeking to halt an investigation into allegations of misconduct in office against him by the Ombudsman Commission.

The investigations relate to Sir Michael Somare's alleged failure to lodge annual returns on three occasions, as well as late lodgment of returns and incomplete statements for other years, all in the period since 1992.

The newspaper, the National, reports that the Commission first wrote to Sir Michael in October 2006 setting out the allegations and giving him the right to be heard.

Later that year, the Prime Minister's request for an independent team of investigators to look into the allegations was rejected.

In various correspondences, the Prime Minister provided reasons why his annual statements were filed late, incomplete and not at all.

Last year, the Chief Ombudsman Ila Geno wrote to the Prime Minister's lawyers advising that the Commission had reached a decision on the allegations.

However Sir Michael's lawyers say they are seeking an interim injunction to allow full arguments to be heard to permanently stop investigations into these allegations.