Former MP’s wife charged with stealing

National, Normal

The National- Tuesday, January 25, 2011

 THE wife of a former member of parliament was arrested and charged yesterday with illegally receiving payments under the payroll of Southern Highlands government (SHPG) through fraud. 

Magareth Ovangi Kopaol  from Wakwak village in Mendi, Southern Highlands, was charged with one count each for conspiracy to defraud, stealing by false pretence and misappropriation under the Criminal Code.

A statement from the police fraud squad said Kopaol, who is a teacher by profession, got herself onto payroll of provincial government on a position already occupied by another officer with the intention of defrauding the state.

“She was on SHPG payroll from July 2005 to June 2006, a total of 21 fortnights in which she received a total of K21, 627.79 from the SHPG, and during that period was also paid by her legitimate employer, the Education Department,” the investigating team said in a statement.

Kopaol committed the offence while her husband was a member and vice minister for the Department of Finance and Treasury. 

She and 300 others were later identified to be illegally on the SHPG payroll and were sacked during the 2006 state of emergency in SHP.

National anti-corruption alliance (NACA) investigations commenced during the state of emergency and thereafter of which more than 60 arrests were made involving various other fraud and misappropriation cases.

This is the second arrest involving salary fraud and the investigating team was unable to say why the investigations took so long.

Kopaol was locked up at Boroko police cell and will appear tomorrow at the Waigani court for mention.