Dege maintains innocence

National

Former National Housing Corporation acting managing director John Dege submitted in court yesterday that he had no idea about charges against him regarding sale of a property.
Dege was charged with abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud and misappropriation.
He is alleged to have facilitated the transfer of a NHC property at section 71, allotment 8, Gordon, Port Moresby, without the proper processes of NHC.
The Waigani Committal Court allowed him to make submissions on the evidence.
His lawyer Darryl Kamen argued to maintain his innocence based on the police files. He argued that there was no proof of Dege signing the letters to facilitate the transfer.
“The evidences are not substantive because there’s no stamp on the letters,” Kamen said.
The allegation started as the current tenant of the property, Jack Nambari, filed a complaint stating that NHC leased the property to him in 2011 on a value of K114,537.50 of which he paid 10 per cent (K12,433.75) according to terms and conditions of the offer before a contract of sale could be finalised. He had lived on the property since 2011. Nambari alleged that the contract of sale was not drafted for him to purchase the property.
On April 10, 2016 Dege wrote and informed him that the offer was cancelled and he would be evicted if he failed to comply within seven days. He obtained a restraining order to prevent the eviction. Dege wrote a memo to NHC’s legal officer to attend to the order.
On May 16, 2016, Dege allegedly wrote an offer letter to a new purchaser, Judith Nikijulu. Nikijulu made an upfront payment of 10 percent, a sum of K26,065. An undated contract of sale was prepared and Nikijulu signed and witnessed by Dege and others.
The title was then transferred to her on Sept 27, 2016, and she paid the outstanding sum of K223,935 on Nov 9. The alleged events took place against a restraining order.
Kamen submitted that the offer letter Dege allegedly signed to transfer the property had not been stamped, so it did not prove that Dege approved the transfer.
He further said a letter from Nikijulu’s lawyer, which was uncovered by police, listed names of people who benefitted from the fraudulent deal and Dege was not one of them.
“Nambari made the claims without providing enough evidence to substantiate it,” he said.
Prosecutor Sgt Joseph Sangam rebutted that Dege’s signatures were on the letters and he could not deny any part in it whether it was stamped or not.
“He was the managing director and he should have known what his officers were up to,” Sangam said.
Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said the Committal Court would look at the evidence as it was, without it being tested, and make a ruling on March 11.

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