3 Jul 2008

Pressure grows on PNG government to probe logging deals

6:37 pm on 3 July 2008

Pressure is growing on the Papua New Guinea government to investigate allegations that a government minister has taken 40 million US dollars from logging deals.

The paper, The Post Courier, reported the money is being kept in two Singapore accounts and managed by a consortium for the unnamed minister, who allegedly took 2.1 per cent on every log exported since 2002.

Megan Whelan reports.

"Dorothy Tekwie, who is Greenpeace's forest campaigner for Australia and the Pacific, says the prime minister Sir Michael Somare has been talking to the international about his commitment to conserve forests. She says if he is genuine about his commitment, he needs to immediately and urgently appoint an independent international investigator. Transparency International says the allegation is disgraceful, and if the story is true, it takes corruption in PNG from moderate to world class levels. In a statement, the opposition leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, says the report should have prompted an immediate reaction from the Government."