Court asked to rule on blocked funds

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, June 16, 2011

THE National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) cannot access funds from its accounts and wants the court to intervene.
The Waigani National Court yesterday heard an urgent application by the newly-appointed NMAG director Meck Kuk to restore access to the accounts.
NMAG Board of Trustees chairman Julius Violaris was named as the first defendant in the proceeding.
It is believed he had issued instructions to the Bank South Pacific to disallow the changing of signatories, and the access of funds available in the two NMAG accounts.
Kuk claimed that the two accounts – the Museum Operational and Museum Project accounts – could not be accessed because of the instruction purported to be written to BSP by Violaris.
Kuk’s counsel sought a court order to restore access to the accounts, as it hindered the operation and running of the NMAG.
The lawyer this included the salary arrangements with the NMAG staff.
He said the restriction meant the NMAG could not assist the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in its operations.
Justice Royale Thompson, who presided over the case, queried why the NMAG was financially assisting the ministry, instead of vice-versa.
 Thompson asked Kuk’s lawyer if the National Museum Act had provisions for the NMAG to pay monies to the ministry.
The lawyer told the court that he would discuss the matter with his client.
The defence argued that the restriction undermined his client’s official duties as the National Executive Council’s duly appointed office bearer, who was entitled to being a signatory and facilitator of the museum’s normal operations.
The National Court will make a decision today.