A Papua New Guinea opposition MP has written to the Ombudsman Commission and Police Fraud Squad calling for inquiries into the APEC luxury cars scandal.
This comes after a public outcry over the government’s recent purchase of hundreds of luxury vehicles for use in transporting leaders at the upcoming APEC leaders summit.
The Minister for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko said the cars have been committed to be paid for by the private sector, with the state bearing no overall cost.
But Sir Mekere Morauta, a former prime minister and current MP for Moresby North-West, says the deal is suspicious.
He said that while the government has failed to answer questions about the deal, enough information has been gathered by himself and others to justify high-level investigations.
“This information indicates a strong likelihood that the Leadership Code, the Constitution, the Criminal Code and other laws have been broken,” Sir Mekere said.
“About K33 million in taxpayers’ money appears to have been spent on luxury cars without due process being followed. The people of Papua New Guinea have a right to know what happened to this money.”
After the controversial import of 40 new Maserati cars came to light last month, prime minister Peter O’Neill said the vehicles would be on-sold in a transparent process as soon as the APEC summit concluded in mid-November.
“Like many other international events that we have hosted in the past in the past 40 years, there has always been an arrangement where the private sector will buy those vehicles, so that it saves government money,” the prime minister explained.
But Sir Mekere and other opposition MPs claim the seriousness of the potential illegal conduct justified a wider inquiry into APEC spending, estimated to be $US900 million by the World Bank, based on PNG government advice.
“If the illegalities of the luxury cars spending are replicated across other APEC spending, then we have corruption as bad as any seen in the world in the past few years,” Sir Mekere said.