12 Sep 2013

PNG MP in court on misappropriation charges

3:18 pm on 12 September 2013

A government MP in Papua New Guinea, Paul Tiensten, has appeared in court on charges of conspiracy to defraud and misappropriation involving 4 million US dollars of public funds.

The Pomio MP is alleged to have misdirected money budgeted for air freight subsidies for third level airlines when he was Minister for National Planning in 2010.

The Public Prosecutor told the court that Mr Tiensten conspired to direct the money as capital to start up a new airline, Travel Air, and not as air freight subsidy as budgeted for.

Mr Tiensten pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Meanwhile, Travel Air's owner, the high profile businessman Eremas Wartoto, is also before the court facing related charges as a result of the investigation by the anti-corruption team, Task Force Sweep.

When the team summoned Mr Tiensten for questioning in September 2011, he fled to Australia but was arrested in PNG upon his return in November.