The National, Friday 14th June 2013
NEWS media reports on certain law firms being paid for rendering services to the Government were “a smokescreen created by people with suspicious interests”, Attorney-General Kerenga Kua said yesterday.
Kua also questioned the two daily newspapers’ impartiality, claiming that “both were used by people with vested interests to publish and prominently feature imprecise news coverage”.
He was referring to reports in The National and Post-Courier last week linking several law firms to million-kina claims for payments lodged with the Department of Finance.
Documents obtained by The National showed that law firms connected to Kua and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato would be the biggest beneficiaries of these claims, of which part-payments had been made.
The bills were for Supreme Court references and other proceedings taken out during the 2011 political impasse when the Somare regime was in office.
Kua said he left Posman Kua Aisi Lawyers on June 30, 2010 but the firm had chosen to continue using his name.
He said the PNG ambassador to the United States Robert Aisi was also a former partner, having left the firm 10 years ago.
“But our names are still being retained by the law firm. That is their prerogative. It is not unusual for a firm to use the name of a retiring partner,” Kua said in a statement.
“The fact that the law firm continue to use our names does not mean there is a continuing financial propriety or interest by the retiring partners in the firm.
“Similarly, the former partners of Steeles Lawyers, Warner Shand Lawyers, Young & Williams have left these firms years ago but their names are being retained by the new owners and partners of these law firms.”
Kua said any evidence of impropriety by the law firms should be brought to the prime minister’s-sanctioned inquiry into the legal fees’ payments.
“I am always conscious about standards,” Kua said. “I was the president of the PNG Law Society for so long. It was on my shoulders to create and uphold the standards. I was under scrutiny by lawyers all my professional life. I am not about to change those standards.
“My advice is for the media and the public not to carry out an investigation in public.
“The prime minister has directed me to engage the Sweep team to investigate and submit a report which will then be delivered to the prime minister.
“Everyone with information is welcome to bring it to me and I will pass it onto the Sweep team.”