By REBECCA KUKU
A COMPANY managing director told an inquiry yesterday how a Health Department official, who was paid only K20,000 of the K70,000 he demanded, stalled payments to the firm for the medicine supplied.
Managing director of Global Customs & Forwarding Ltd Harupe Peke also told the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the procurement, supply and distribution of medicine that after he wrote a letter of complaint to the Health Department about the matter, he was threatened to withdraw it, otherwise he and his family would be arrested.
He identified the department official who demanded the K70,000 as corporate manager Paul Dopsie.
Peke told the inquiry chaired by Sir John Pundari in Port Moresby that he was threatened by an official he knew only as “Mr Puli” from the Finance Department on Oct 5, 2018 to withdraw the complaint or he and his family would be arrested. He was told that there was no Whistleblowers Act in place to protect him, and that his contract with the department would be thrown out.
Company accountant Basil Roma, who supported what Peke said, told the committee that Dopsie had called Peke on Sept 29, 2016 demanding K70,000. But Peke only gave Dopsie K20,000.
“I went with my boss (Peke) and withdrew the K20,000 from the Westpac Bank. I remember it was around 1.40pm when we drove to the Stanley Hotel car park to meet with Dopsie. He was not happy with the K20,000 and wanted K50,000 more,” Roma said.
Roma said Dopsie later took the K20,000 and left. He said the department’s payments to the company were stalled after that.
Peke said he had paid Dopsie numerous times in the past and was getting fed up with it.
So when Dopsie insisted on being paid K50,000 more, he wrote a letter of complaint to the Health Department.
“On Oct 2 in 2017, Dopsie called me to his office and told me to withdraw the letter of complaint which I did on the next day.
“However, about a year later on Oct 5, 2018, a Mr Puli from the Finance Department called me and asked me to meet with him at the Finance office.
“When I got there, he threatened me to withdraw the complaint against Dopsie or my family and I would be arrested as there was no Whistleblowers Act in place to protect us. He said my current contract with the NDOH would be at stake.
“I didn’t really mind about the second one but was really concerned about the threat issued against my family.” The inquiry will resume early next year.
By REBECCA KUKU