LAWYER Erick Andersen is a free man after the Waigani Committal Court threw out 95 charges of conspiracy to defraud and misappropriation brought against him.
Conspiracy charges against banker John Maddison were also dismissed, but he was committed to the National Court with a prima facie case against him with respect 45 charges of misappropriation.
The district court found that on the conspiracy charges the prosecution evidence lacked credibility to show existence of conspiracy to defraud between Andersen and Maddison. The court said their meetings in dealing with the Yama case were purely on a solicitor/client basis and in the presence of and witnessed by other bank officials.
Maddison was not present as he is receiving medical treatment in Australia. Their lawyer, Kerenga Kua of Posman Kua Aisi Lawyers, described the decision as “a very good decision” and said it was “welcomed by us all”.
Both accused men were charged under separate information with 50 counts each of conspiracy to defraud contravening section 407 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, 45counts each of misappropriation contravening section 383A (1) (a).
Maddison had been further charged with one count of falsifying a document contravening section 414 (1) (b) (ii) (iii).
The court heard that on July 30, 2007, owner of Yama Group of Companies Peter Yama laid complaint at the Waigani police station claiming that the account of one of its subsidiary companies NEISENEL No.77 Limited held a BSP Madang branch had been debited with huge amounts of money without his or any of the director’s knowledge or authority.
Mr Yama alleged that the money debited from his account was paid to a legal firm which he had never engaged.
He only knew of this when certain bank documents including the statement of account of NEISENEL No.77 Ltd were tendered in a civil court proceeding in the National Court by the bank against him and his companies.
From enquires the police arrested and charged both men of conspiring to defraud and misappropriate up to K1,321,189.77.
The court was informed that evidence on the charge of conspiring to defraud was not sufficient, discharging both accused.
On the charge of misappropriation, evidence was not sufficient to commit Anderson.
He was discharged and his bail of K10,000 refunded.
The charge of falsifying a document against Maddison was dismissed as the court found the charge defective.
Maddison will appear before the National Court for mention on 17 May when he returns from medical treatment.
Mr Kua told The National outside court that the dismissal of the 95 charges against Mr Andersen in their entirety “is a great relief to him and vindicates him as a lawyer.
He is a very senior practitioner of law in this jurisdiction with over 23 years of dedicated experience and service to the country”.
He said Andersen “is held in very high regard as a professional by other lawyers, his clients and certainly by the Council of the Law Society.”