Staff charged with wrong payout of K3m to firm

National, Normal

The National, Monday June 24th, 2013

 AN officer of the Department of National Planning and Monitoring has been arrested and charged with alleged involvement in facilitating a wrongful payout of K3 million to a construction company.

Wakai Digine, 30, from Pildimna village, Gumine, Chimbu, was arrested last week by the National Fraud Squad investigation team.

Digine has been charged with one count each of official corruption, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud the state.

According to the major crime brief from detective Chief Insp Tom Gitua, Digine, who is a programme officer in the economics sector of the department, appraised a rural electrification proposal submitted by the former MP for Kerowagi.

The report said he altered the former MP’s name and replaced it with United Builders and Contractors Ltd, a company owned by a Joe Degemba, a former executive officer to then acting department secretary, Ruby Zarriga.

Police alleged the appraisal done by Digine did not follow proper government procurement process and a sum of K3 million raised to United Builders and Contractors Ltd.

Police alleged Digine was responsible for proposals for fisheries, forestry and agriculture and his duties and responsibilities did not fall within the energy sector and as such it was not for his appraisal.

Under the department’s processes and procedures, all or any correspondence relating to the energy sector of any programme falling under that sector were to be channelled through the assistant secretary infrastructure branch and down to the programme officers for appropriate assessment but that process was bypassed.

Digine was formally arrested and charged on June 6 with one count of official corruption, one count of abuse of office and one count of conspiracy and detained at the Boroko police cell.

Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim said: “As a matter of law, Digine is innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.” 

It is understood that Degemba, the recipient of the K3 million, and who was previously arrested and charged on this matter was “mysteriously” discharged by a district court magistrate in Kundiawa before his scheduled appearance date.

Koim said his files would be revised and referred to the public prosecutor for fresh charges.