Schnaubelt denies link to Singapore bank account

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FOREST Minister Walter Schnaubelt has denied claims that he has been directly linked to a Singapore bank account that has a substantial amount of money in it.
Schnaubelt made this statement after a Facebook post went viral alleging that he had opened a secret account in Singapore under a private company name and instructed logging companies in PNG to deposit between US$3 million (about K10 million) and US$10 (about K35 million) into the account.
“I refute this claim outright and have no knowledge as to the ownership of this account or any other details of it,” Schnaubelt said in a statement.
“I will seek legal means to bring to justice those who are involved in these faceless and false allegations against me as the State Minister for Forestry in the public domain.
“In addition, all names, mobile numbers and other details have been collated for further processing towards my legal defence.”
Schnaubelt said the accusation boiled down to certain politically-motivated individuals who were attempting to discredit his reputation leading up to next year’s general elections.
He also said the allegations were an attempt to replace him as State Minister for Forestry, and to entice Prime Minister James Marape to remove him from office.
Schnaubelt claimed that logging companies were not happy since his appointment as Minister for Forest and wanted him replaced.
He claimed that senior management and staff at PNG Forest Authority wanted him replaced as Forestry Minister.
He said there was a current member of parliament in Government who wanted to replace him as Forestry Minister immediately.
Schnaubelt said he had been fighting corrupt practices from within the Forestry Authority.
“Since February, I have placed immense pressure on logging companies to comply with their permit conditions and pay up all outstanding royalties and levies they owed to the Forest Authority and landowners.
“These outstanding issues date back to 2014 and, unfortunately we don’t have proper records beyond that time, while most companies are no longer operating today.
“This is frustrating to say the least that we cannot hold them to account today, but I will continue exploring all options whilst I focus immediately on preventing current royalties and levies from falling behind in arrears again,” Schnaubelt said.