A provincial administrator in Papua New Guinea has backed up a claim by the Police Commissioner that elements of the national anti-fraud unit were conducting investigations without full authority.
The commissioner Gary Baki accuses fraud officers of conducting an unauthorised investigation into the Simbu provincial administration, with funding from an outside source.
Mr Baki made the allegation in a statement confirming the suspension of leading members of the fraud squad who are advancing a major fraud case which impicates the prime minister Peter O'Neill.
The suspension has been stayed by the court but a dangerous division has emerged within PNG's police force over the matter.
Among a list of police procedure breaches which Commissioner Baki levelled at the fraud squad head Mathew Damaru and several of his team, were allegations of bribery and an unsanctioned probe in Simbu.
The Simbu provincial administrator Joe Kunda Naur said it came to his office's attention about two weeks ago that fraud officers from Port Moresby were in town.
"When they came, they did not inform us that they were coming. The provincial police commander was not aware they were coming," said Mr Naur.
The administrator said he asked the fraud officers if they had any pass or a letter, authorising them to come to Simbu, or a terms of reference for the investigation conducted in the Highlands province.
"When we asked, they didn't have that to produce to us. So that made us suspicious."
Joe Kunda Naur said that when he subsequently contacted the Police Commissioner, he learnt that the fraud officers were being paid by another source to conduct the probe in Simbu.
Mr Naur said cases of fraud squad officers disobeying police procedure were trying to discredit the reputation of PNG's police.
Mr Naur said police were doing a good job but agreed with Mr Baki that a few individual elements within the force were running around, pursuing a separate agenda.
"The fight by the commissioner to try to maintain the status quo I think is important. I think we need to support the commissioner because there has to be order, there has to be discipline within the force. He's probably saying the right thing. There has to be command and control from the office that he holds. Again, we are not saying that investigations are bad. Investigations are good. They are for transparency and good governance."