A SENIOR finance official at the Morobe provincial government has blamed the Bank South Pacific for failing to prevent K1.6 million belonging to the Tewai-Siassi electorate falling to the wrong hands.
The money is from the district services improvement programme funds normally under the care of the Tewai-Siassi MP.
It was initially reported that K2.2 million had “gone missing”.
But provincial treasurer Andrew Namuesh said it was K1,650,950 which disappeared from an account held at BSP Lae branch.
Tewai-Siassi MP Vincent Michaels last week raised this matter in Parliament, saying a Waigani syndicate was “dipping its fingers into the people’s money” and called for a thorough investigation.
Mr Namuesh said K1,650,950 went missing between May and September and the theft happened because BSP staff at a Port Moresby branch allowed it to happen.
On Aug 6, cheque number 135 for K900,000 was raised.
It was presented to the bank the next day but dishonoured.
The same cheque was presented again at a BSP branch in Port Moresby and was successfully cashed to Rainco Project Consultants Limited, a Telikom Rumana-based company.
On Sept 9, a cheque of K750,950 was paid to Paul II Construction Limited and dishonored.
This dishonoured cheque was again presented on Sept 23 and successfully paid out.
Mr Namuesh said that it was BSP’s fault as it released the funds without exhausting all the financial instructions governing their drawdown.
He said bank staff did not verify these payments with his office, nor the office of the provincial administrator and the district treasury office.
He said form 11, fundamental in any drawdown of funds from district treasury offices throughout the country was not attached to the cheques and should have alerted bank staff of the transaction.
“Despite all these missing pieces, BSP staff went ahead and processed K1,650,950 and paid these fraudulent companies.
“The bank must take full responsibility.
“We have notified BSP of our intention to take legal action,” Mr Namuesh said.