Pacific Games costs probed

PORT MORESBY, 14 OCTOBER 2015 ( THE NATIONAL) ----An expatriate allegedly involved in a scam relating to the use of funds to build Pacific Games venues has been stopped by police from leaving the country.

National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate director Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru said the man was arrested at Jackson International Airport on Friday morning before he could board an Air Niugini flight out of the country.

Damaru has written to Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura to stop expatriates involved in the construction of the Games venues from leaving the country because they were part of police investigations.

“The expatriate was arrested when attempting to travel out of the country but was nabbed at the (Jackson airport) departure lounge by fraud squad officers and his former local employees,” Damaru said.

Damaru said two other expatriates wanted by police for questioning had left on an earlier international flight.

He said they were needed by police for questioning “over false and misleading building costing documents to the authorities to inflate the actual cost of materials and labour for the construction of the Games venues and other Game’s infrastructure”.

Damaru said the expatriate was employed by a construction company engaged to build infrastructure for the Games.

“He was about to board a 9am Air Niugini flight to Australia when he was arrested,” Damaru said.

“He was brought to the fraud squad office in Konedobu and questioned. His passport was confiscated to prevent him from escaping.

“He has been released but will be brought back for further questioning.”

In March, Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman Philip Eludeme had written to the Pacific Games Authority raising his concern on how the costs of the (Games venues) project was being managed.

He pointed out the excessive amount of variations from certain contractors and international consultants “with the full blessing of the Pacific Games Authority office”.

Eludeme said in the letter the board was “gravely concerned (about) the professional negligence by the international consultant engaged by the State to furnish detailed and complete documentation prior to the tender period for all bidders to price their bids competitively on the tender and ensure that value for money is attained by the State”.

More than K90 million in variation costs was approved “with reservations” by the Central Supply and Tenders Board in March to ensure that two major venues would be ready for the Pacific Games.

Eludeme had expressed his concern over the “excessive” variation costs – one by 96 per cent of the original contract value.

Eludeme told the authority in the letter that “should there be any of-fence revealed by the audits after the 2015 Pacific Games, this approval shall not negate the criminality of such an offence”.

He said in the letter that the board “resolved to approve the variations with reservations due to the importance and urgency to deliver the 2015 Pacific Games project on time”.

The original value of one contract for redevelopment at the Sir John Guise Stadium was K7.96 million. The variation cost increased it by 96 per cent to K15.3m.

The value of another contract at the stadium originally calculated at K119.3 million ended up cost-ing K165.7m – an increase of 41 per cent. For the Taurama Aquatic Centre, the original contract value was K121,346,217. This ballooned to K157,780,315 – an increase of 30 per cent......PACNEWS


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