AUSTRALIAN bank executive Robin Fleming, charged in Port Moresby last week with conspiring to defeat the course of justice, on Monday had his passport returned by the court, and was told he could travel overseas as long as he provided notification, The Australian newspaper reported yesterday.
Mr Fleming’s fellow Bank of South Pacific executive, John Maddison, also charged, has been receiving medical treatment in Melbourne but is returning to Papua New Guinea this week.
The bankers had instructed accounting firm Deloittes to act as BSP’s agent in recovering K7.6 million in loans outstanding from the Yama Group of Companies, after the latter had won a separate court battle to obtain the money from a third party.
But the company’s owner, former policeman and politician Peter Yama, claimed that the bank falsified the documents relating to his loans.
Last week, BSP’s law firm, Australia-based Gadens, withdrew from representing the bank after a gun was placed at the head of one lawyer.
Now the bank has enlisted the services of another Australian firm, Blake Dawson Waldron, which will be representing the two Australians at a magistrates court hearing on Feb 23.
This will decide whether Mr Fleming and Mr Maddison will have to stand trial.
The PNG Law Society condemned the threats against Gadens’ lawyers “in the strongest possible terms”, council member Royale Thompson said.
“The society notes that this is not the first time that lawyers have been harassed in the execution of their duties.
“If they are penalised or intimidated for carrying out their duty on behalf of clients, the people’s confidence in our legal system will be lost,” she said.
Paul Barker, director of PNG’s only independent think tank, the Institute of National Affairs, said police had to operate freely and fairly, “instead of acting on behalf of people they see as clients”. – www.theaustralian.com.au