Firm uncovers fraud in military

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014

 AN independent investigation has uncovered fraud involving more than a million kina at the PNG Defence Force headquarters at Murray Barracks in Port Moresby.

The investigative audit report by a management consultancy firm alleges that two senior officers authorised unverified transactions from the Command Officers’ Mess Independence Ball (COMIB) account between October 2008 and February 2011. 

The fraud amounted to more than K1.2 million. 

The account was set up to cater for the Command Officers’ Mess annual independence ball.

According to documents sighted by The National, the report was commissioned by an officer of the Defence Force Commercial Support Programme.

 The consultancy was asked to investigate the COMIB account with respect to compulsory fortnightly deductions of monies which were supposed to be deposited into the Defence Force commercial support trust account but were instead diverted and deposited into the COMIB account between October 2008 and February 2011.

The officer who commissioned the report, lodged a complaint at Boroko Police Station against the two officers on Monday.

Copies of the report were delivered to the Task Force Sweep, the police proceeds of crime unit, the Chief Secretary to the Government, the police fraud and anti-corruption squad last month and recently to the Ombudsman Commission.

The audit investigation began in November 2012. It examined bank records and interviewed a number of people.

The report claims there was diversion of funds to the COMIB account from which the two officers jointly and separately made withdrawals.

Military sources familiar with the investigation have called on the government, the investigating authorities, law enforcing agencies and Defence Force to get to the bottom of the allegations.

“This was money meant to meet the welfare of our troops who were at times fed sub-standard food because very senior people in responsible positions were siphoning it off for their own use,” one source said.

“Such corrupt people should not hold public office because it would reflect badly on the integrity and reputation of the Defence Force. 

“This fraud case is common knowledge among the military rank and file and we are angry about it.

“The government preaches a lot of fighting corruptions so it must act,” the source said.

“This is a case which when details of the extent of the fraud are made public, will greatly embarrass the government and the Defence Force but action needs to be taken and taken immediately.”