Former PNG leader Sir Michael Somare denies taking bribes
Papua New Guinea’s founding prime minister Sir Michael Somare has denied receiving bribes or inducements, after a Singapore court said he got more than $1 million from a money laundering scam.
Singapore’s State Court sentenced an American man and a Singaporean woman to jail on September 1 for using a shell company and a fake invoice to steal $US3.6 million, claiming it was for telecommunications equipment for a community college project in PNG.
The country’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said the pair deposited $US784,000 ($1.04 million) in a Singapore bank account belonging to Sir Michael.
In a statement, Sir Michael said he had never received inducements or bribes at any time in his political career.
“A court case has found two persons in Singapore guilty of money laundering offences and subsequently names me as a recipient of some funds,” he said.
“I have taken steps to get clarification and legal advice on this matter, but I would like to state from the outset that at no time in my political career have I received inducements or bribes.
“At first glance these charges say otherwise. Therefore, during the next few days, I will consult with my family and legal counsel and consider how to address this matter.”
Sir Michael is one of Papua New Guinea’s “Grand Chiefs” and remains a revered figure for his role in securing PNG’s independence from Australia.
He acknowledged the impact news of the judgment would have.
“I take this opportunity to apologize to the people of Papua New Guinea, my people of East Sepik and my family for the shame and embarrassment these reports may have caused,” he said.