Politics behind stop payment

National, Normal


THE Supreme Court was told last Friday that the State’s decision to stop the payment of K7.75 million to businessman Peter Yama as ordered by the National Court was politically motivated.
Ben Lomai, for Mr Yama, said the stop payment letter from the Prime Minister’s Office chief of staff Leonard Louma to Finance secretary Gabriel Yer, was the result of instructions from Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
This was despite the National Court ordering Mr Yer to pay Mr Yama half of the K15 million he had sued the State for alleged damage and economic loss to his property in Madang.
The arguments between the counsel were so heated last Friday that Justice David Cannings had to intervene saying: “This is starting to sound like a red herring. 
“This issue is not getting anywhere.”
The court was told by defending counsels that the Prime Minister had the authority to act in stopping payment because he was then Finance minister.
Luther Makap of Makap Lawyers, representing Mr Yer and Mr Louma and Norbert Kubak for the State, are appealing against Justice Pomat Paliau’s decision granted on July 3 last year which ordered Mr Yer to make the payment of the K7.75 million.
Mr Makap, for the State, is seeking the trial judges’ orders of July 3, 2008, to be quashed and set aside with the entire proceedings to be dismissed. Mr Kubak, for the State, is supporting this.
However, Mr Lomai argued that although it had taken six years for the current acting Solicitor-General Neville Devete to give clearance for the payment of K7.75 million, he saw no reason why Mr Yer would put a stop to the payment when all due diligence was followed and the payment was made into his account.
“Pursuant to the clearance by the Solicitor-General, the first appellant proceeded to process the payment.
“The cheque No. 880355 was drawn up in the name of the respondent (Mr Yama). The cheque was released to the respondent and he deposited to cheque into his personal bank account. However, the respondent issued a stop payment on the cheque,” Mr Lomai submitted.
The decision was reserved to the Supreme Court sitting next month.