On trial for alleged corruption

Main Stories

AN accountant who allegedly received payments of more than K398,000 through the Goroka district development authority for an unsanctioned audit has been committed to stand trial on corruption charges.
Magistrate Paul Nii in the Waigani Committal Court found enough evidence against Paulson Undi, from Ialibu in Southern Highlands, a specialised forensic auditor attached to the Auditor-General’s Office, to face trial for official corruption.
It related to the payment of K398,900 from the Goroka development authority to him through his company Optimax Forensics and Advisory Solutions.
Police alleged that Undi received the money while employed in the public service as an auditor with the Auditor-General’s Office.
The money was made payable to Undi’s company to perform an unsanctioned duty – investigating and auditing the authority.
Undi allegedly committed the offence between June 1 and Dec 31, 2018.
Undi’s counsel argued that there was no evidence to confirm he dishonestly asked for money to do his job and that the monies that were alleged to have been paid into his company were legally approved by authority for auditing purposes.
Undi argued that he had not gone to Goroka to discharge his duties as an auditor with the Auditor-General’s Office, but was there to investigate the books relating to Nokondi Investment.
He said while he was in Goroka, there was an impasse between Governor Peter Numu and provincial administrator Samson Akunai, which led to him assisting the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate in their investigations.
Police Prosecutor Snr Const Peter Samghy argued that Undi, while engaged to audit of Nokondi Investment upon request from Eastern Highlands government through the directorate, absconded his duties and instead conducted an unsanctioned and illegal audit and investigation into the authority and was paid for that service.
In ruling, the court said according to the evidence, the arrangement between the district development authority and Undi was a private arrangement.
Magistrate Nii said if the defendant’s engagement with the authority was approved and endorsed by the police and the auditor-general, then there was no need to pay K398,900 to the defendant’s private company.
He said Undi was neither appointed by police nor the office of the auditor-general to audit the authority; he was only approved to audit Nokondi Investment.
Undi is out on bail and is expected to return on Oct 20 for his statement.