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Gulf Governor found guilty of misusing K130,000 in trust funds

GULF Governor Havila Kavo has been found guilty of misusing K130,000 from a LNG pipeline trust account belonging to the people of Kikori district for infrastructure. Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika reached this decision at the National Court yesterday, saying the governor was dishonest in his application of the funds for personal use.
He said what Kavo did was tantamount to misappropriation because he was paid out of K10 million trust funds allocated by the Government for special development projects in Gulf Province. "You have no right and the Gulf provincial government has no right to convert this project funds to use at will," Justice Salika told Mr Kavo in a packed
courtroom at Waigani.

It was a "dangerous trend" if the trust funds were to be used in the manner in which it was used, he added. "It is a dangerous thing for provincial administration to advise MPs that trust funds can be used as and when they feel like," Justice Salika said.

 "I consider that according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people from the Kikori district, the people of Gulf Province and Papua New Guinea, the accused did, in being a party to making a PEC decision to pay himself his outstanding (salaries and remuneration commission) SRC allowances from the MoA or UBSA Trust funds and then accepting the K131,338 amounts to dishonesty as those funds were not intended for paying outstanding allowances," Judge Salika said in his written judgment.

He said this was because there was evidence that the Gulf provincial executive council chaired by the governor made the decision to make those payments.

Justice Salika said it was fact the K131,338 came out of K10m which were for special development projects for infrastructure development and for the landowners in the Kikori district, who are within the 10km corridor of the Kutubu Oil project pipeline from Southern Highlands Province.

According to the State, the K10 million cheque was released by Finance Department on November 10, 2010, to the Gulf provincial government as a payment originally drawn out from the petroleum outstanding commitment trust fund that Finance held.

Governor Kavo’s arrest and prosecution followed a formal complaint by Kikori MP Mark Maipakai. Lawyer Abraham Kumbari for Kavo submitted that there was no criminality in the payments because the money was his rightful outstanding allowances dating back from 2007 to 2009.

Mr Kumbari had during trial last month submitted that Mr Kavo was wrongly prosecuted with one count of misappropriation charges he is facing. The defence lawyer claimed the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed the offence he was charged with. Mr Kavo was told to return on October 6 for submissions on appropriate sentence.

PNG Today/Post Courier

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