By CHARLES MOI
Businessman Eremas Wartoto, on trial for allegedly misusing K7.9 million of public funds, will soon learn of the national court’s decision, after lawyers made their closing arguments in Waigani on Tuesday.
Justice George Manuhu said the primary issue for the court to consider was how Wartoto used the funds.
Wartoto was charged with two counts of misappropriation.
The first states that he dishonestly applied K6,791,408 to his own use and the use of others between 2009 and 2010 in the National Capital District and in East New Britain.
The second count alleges that he dishonestly applied K1,197,483 to his own use and the use of others between Oct 14, 2009 and Jan 30, 2010 in Port Moresby, Kokopo and Rabaul.
The prosecution allege that the funds were misused because they were not used to rehabilitate infrastructure at the Kerevat National High School in Gazelle, East New Britain.
Manuhu said the matter was in court because public money was paid to Wartoto’s company Sarakolok West Transport (SWT) Ltd seven years ago and the court needed to determine how the funds were used.
“I want the precise figures as to how the funds were used,” Manuhu told Wartoto’s lawyer Justin Haiara.
“I will have to determine how much was used for Kerevat (National High School),” he said.
Haiara said he did not have the exact figures but stated that Wartoto did not intend to cheat the State.
He argued that the funds remained the property of (SWT) after it was released by the State.
He said that terms of contract did not specify how the funds should be used and asked the court to dismiss the charges and acquit Wartoto.
The prosecution said that the contract was a tool for Wartoto to extract funds from the State through SWT for whose account Wartoto was the sole signatory.
The prosecution told the court that Wartoto did a little amount of work on the school.
According to the prosecution, Wartoto’s evidence in court was vague, evasive and that he contradicted himself during the trial.
The trial started in Feb whenWartoto pleaded not guilty to both.
By CHARLES MOI