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PNG Commerce Minister Duma to sue Australian Financial Review Newspaper for Defamation

Papua New Guinea Minister for Commerce William Duma has sought  the advice of a leading Australian Defamation lawyer and he has advised him that he has good prospects to sue the Australian Financial Review.

He made this known in Parliament on Wednesday, when saying he has evidence to prove he has been wrongly accused of any wrong doing following a report that was published in the AFR last week, about a nine-year-old payment of $US10.3 million ($15.4 million) by Horizon Oil to an unknown shell company in Papua New Guinea.

According to the AFR the nine year payment is threatening to derail the Australian-listed Horizon Oil, after it repeatedly ignored corruption warnings.

The Australian Financial Review reported Horizon Chairman Mike Harding is under pressure to investigate corruption allegations in PNG.

However Duma, who is now the minister for Commerce says the transaction that is being discussed was made between two companies and no PNG money was involved.

Duma says he has not broken any laws and has in no way acted outside of what the Petroleum and Energy Advisory Board advised when he was minister for Petroleum and Energy in 2011.

Minister Duma says none of what he said now will repair the damage done to his reputation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister  James Marape has requested his Australian counterpart Scott  Morrison for information on allegations in the Australian media that a  PNG Cabinet minister was involved in a US$10 million “deal”.
 “I have  sent a request at the highest level to my colleague in Australia,” he  said. “I am interested in this matter, the police and ombudsman will be  interested in this matter.”
 Deputy Opposition leader Dr Allan Marat  had asked Marape in the House whether he was aware of allegations  against a cabinet minister involved in a US$10 million deal, as reported  by Australian media.
 Marape said: “I communicated with my colleague (Morrison) if he can assist (by providing) information as to what has happened.
“I have asked at the highest level that we are exchanging notes.”
 He said Australia should assist in exposing “if there is money laundering from PNG to Australia.
 “I want those statistics.”
 “If there are PNG based companies funnelling funds illegally, we already have the Proceeds of Crime Act,” he said.
 “And so, we are interfacing at that level to ensure that the two  economies and jurisdictions are on the same page as far as fighting  corruption is concerned.”
 Marape also urged people with any information relating to corruption to refer it to authorities.
 He said anyone who had received money in a “shady deal” should, in the  interest of fighting corruption, inform the corruption-fighting  institutions.

FM100/The National/PNG Today

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