Category Archives: Fraud

Raids In City

The National

By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK

A MAJOR government operation led by the Immigration Department has uncovered illegal activities conducted by some foreign-owned businesses in Port Moresby.

A team comprising officers from the PNG Customs, Labour Department, Investments Promotion Authority, National Capital District Commission, Bank of PNG and police inspected some businesses and questioned foreign workers yesterday.

The team confiscated two vehicles allegedly smuggled into the country in a container.
The officers also questioned 30 foreign workers for allegedly breaching their visa conditions and work permits.
Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, compliance and border division Dino Mas, who invited The National to accompany the officers yesterday, said each government agency was to check to see if the foreign-owned businesses and workers were complying with  PNG laws.

During a debriefing session after yesterday’s inspection, officers exchanged information and discussed what they had discovered.

PNG Customs Officers said they discovered two brand new vehicles, yet to be introduced to the country, hidden in a container.

“These model vehicles have not been introduced yet into PNG. Yet they are already here. We checked the payment documents and discovered that the owner paid only K8000 for each vehicle,” an officer said.
“We will check our overseas counterpart where the vehicle came from, how these vehicles were shipped out of their country.

“We also discovered large quality of undeclared cigarettes in a container in the same premises. These cigarettes were brought in without paying custom taxes.”
Bank of PNG officers, who requested anonymity, said some of these foreign companies had been avoiding paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Commission.

“Some of these companies are making up to K2 million profit annually. But they were declaring around K500 in tax return. So they are avoid paying taxes,” one officer said.
“Seeing their business operations from outside, it is very big. But when they provide business reports, they make it a very small operation.”
The officers said there were many smaller companies but linked to only three or four big companies.

“And they transfer all the money to one parent company and from there, they bank it in an overseas account.
“This is money laundering. We discovered large amount of cash in their premises and discovered that they don’t bank their money in our commercial banks.

“We encourage them to bank the money for security reasons.”
Labour officers requesting anonymity said they discovered that some companies were not paying superannuation for local staff. They also do not pay the minimum K3 an hour rate.
“Some of these foreign employees are doing jobs that locals can do like operating cash registers. But on their work permit they are managers.

“We also found out that there are too many managers for one job. Some of them come on dependent or tourist visas.  But they end up doing business.”
The Labour officers also discovered that some foreign workers were paid in cash so that their employer would avoid paying tax.

More than 50% voted – Gamato

July 4, 2017 – Gorothy Kenneth 

More than half of voting population voted

THE 2017 National Election has not failed, as records show that more than 50 percent of the voter population in districts that voted have cast their votes.

And an election can only fail if writs are not returned on the date as gazetted.

This is from the PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato, who was questioned yesterday by media to confirm if this election was a failed one, since social media and mainstream had gone viral about issues pertaining to the roll and the late start of polling in some parts of the country.

But Mr Gamato insisted yesterday that the National Election was on track despite some minor issues in some parts of the country.

“The decision to fail elections rests with the Electoral Commissioner, which is me. We can qualify failed election if less than 50 percent of the population hasn’t voted. But if, within an electorate, more than 50 percent has casted their votes, you cannot fail the election,” Mr Gamato said.

“Secondly, if there is gross violence within the province disrupting the electoral process, then you can fail the election. Up to now, I’ve not seen any or heard any reports of gross violence and people who went to cast votes, let’s take NCD for example, more than 50 percent (I think 80-90 percent) of the people have cast their votes,” he said.

“And so far across the country, I have not heard any incident and violence and disruption of polling taking place, so therefore I cannot, at this stage claim election in all electorates failed.”

Mr Gamato was also asked if manipulation of election, especially in voting, was also a sign to fail the elections and to confirm if this has happened so far in polling places throughout PNG.

“I cannot at this stage, say there is manipulation, although in the past, there has been, at this stage not brought to my attention,” Mr Gamato said.

 

Misleading Statements on Rig Election 

26th June 2017

Here seem to a a lot of misleading statements from a lot of people around the country thinking that there are extra ballot boxes.

What are lot people don’t realized is that these reports are 2nd or 3rd hand information.

There was a report on ballot boxes being burnt in Tari which was for James Marape and other candidates. 

The FACT is what was burnt is ‘Election Awarenss Materials’. It was burnt in public so people don’t assume it’s extra ballot boxes.

Kindly get FACTS right 

Safe voting !!!!

Manase Calls Out Poyle

June 1, 2017
Kandep
Candidate for the Kandep open seat Alfred Manase has raised concerns over the fact that sitting MP and Opposition leader Don Polye is yet to visit his constituencies in Kandep.
Mr Manase believes Mr Polye is too afraid to front up to the people who are angered by his failure to deliver on promises and fulfill pledges that he had made during the previous election.
“If Mr Polye is to visit the people, he will have to confront his failures and that would be too glaring to accept. He would see schools, aid posts and roads that are unusable and be confronted by people angry with him over a clear lack of services in the Kandep region.”
Manase has also raised concerns over the campaign strategy being employed by Mr Polye during this election.
To date, the Opposition leader has not yet set foot in Kandep.
Mr Manase believes this might be indicative of Mr Polye’s plan to commit electoral fraud as he had allegedly done in the past.
“Don Polye is hiding from the people of Kandep, and is proof that he is too scared to face up to the people he has ignored for over a decade, ” Mr Manase said.
“I am now reading in the newspaper that he has chosen to attack the Electoral Commission, the one authority who will be there to stop him from cheating as he did in 2007 and 2012.”
“Don doesn’t want the PNG Defence Force in Kandep, either; he fears having a safe and secure election will stop his people from intimidating voters in Kandep with firearms.”
“Anyone who wants to be the prime minister of Papua New Guinea needs to respect democracy. Mr Polye’s attack on the PNGDF, the Electoral Commission and local police who are not ‘loyal’ to him shows that democracy is something Don wishes he didn’t have to deal with.”
“I have spent the entire campaign period visiting the people of Kandep and seeing firsthand the consequences of Polye’s 15-year leadership. There are no roads, schools are falling apart, and there is no healthcare. What has he done with his DSIP funds?”
“Don should stop being a coward and face the people he has let down. He should not be allowed to call himself the alternative prime minister while his people are suffering like this.”

Have we been fed a lie about Vodafone and Bemobile Partnership??

By: Market Observer

Recent scandal in Fiji regarding tens of Millions of ‘Corporate Signage kickbacks ‘ contracts for  Vodafone Fiji has prompt me to asked if Bemobile has actually benefited with its ‘market agreement ‘ with Vodafone.

Since the Agreement was signed in July 2014, we have not seen any increased in quality services from Bemobile but rather fruitless attempts in branding. What also have seen is more visibility of Vodafone Branding then of Bemobile.

We tend to wonder if the ‘Marketing Agreement’ is a Vodafone branding takeover and Bemobile being just another used vehicle by the corporate heavies who walks away with huge kickbacks and commissions for brokering this deal.

It’s all coming out in Fiiji, makybe ICCC might want to check on Bemobile also..

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Vodafone and Bemobile announced Market Partnership agreement in PNG

10 July 2014

Vodafone Group Plc (“Vodafone”) and Bemobile Limited (trading as “bmobile”) today jointly announced the formation of a new Partner Market agreement in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Under the non-equity partnership agreement, bmobile becomes Vodafone’s exclusive partner in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and the two companies will jointly offer business and consumer customers a range of products and services.

bmobile will benefit from access to Vodafone best practice and products and services which will enable it to enhance its proposition to customers in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Vodafone’s multinational corporate customers will benefit from the addition of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to their existing contracts for international managed services, while continuing to be serviced via a single point of contact.

Mr Sundar Ramamurthy, Group CEO of bmobile, said: “We are delighted to form a strategic partnership with Vodafone which will enable us to provide a comprehensive range of products and services for our customers locally and globally. In addition, bmobile customers will benefit from being able to roam on to Vodafone’s global mobile network.”
Stefano Gastaut, CEO, Vodafone Partner Markets, said: “This strategic partnership with bmobile will enable us to expand our presence in Asia Pacific and extend the reach of our products and services across the region. It will also deliver enhanced roaming benefits for both our consumer and multinational corporate customers.”
http://www.vodafone.com/content/index/media/vodafone-group-releases/2014/bemobile.html#
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Fijileaks …
The country’s largest mobile phone operator Vodafone has been paralysed by a multi-million-dollar kickback scandal involving wildly over-inflated prices for corporate signage that is currently being investigated by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, and which directly implicates the company’s chief executive officer as well as FIRCA’s own chairman. 
The accusations are political dynamite because every cent of the kickbacks, in the form of overstated marketing costs, would otherwise have been booked as profits accruing to the beleaguered Fiji National Provident Fund, which – together with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings, also majority owned by the FNPF – are the sole owners of Vodafone Fiji Ltd.
But in a strange twist of fate – so typical of the self-dealing world of Frank Bainimarama’s corrupt regime – the man supposedly fighting for the interests of the FNPF and Fiji’s taxpayers is also the chairman of Vodafone, the company who stands to lose the most from any investigation, enforcement and action taken, and its parent company ATH.
Central to the allegations that FIRCA is uncovering is the Cuvu-born, squint-eyed sign-writer Sagadewan Goundar – better known as Nicholas Goundar – and his long-standing relationship with Vodafone CEO Pradeep Lal.
Fijileaks understands that FIRCA picked up the trail of Goundar as he was operating a business generating hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue each year and importing significant amounts of goods, despite having no registered company or tax identification number (TIN). He was also still serving a ban from acting as a corporate director because of a previous bankruptcy.
A FIRCA audit of Goundar’s income and expenditure revealed an extensive paper trail that led directly to Lal, who has been Vodafone’s CEO since July 2014 but has worked for the company in senior positions for almost twenty years.
Since the 2008 launch of Digicel in Fiji broke up Vodafone’s long-standing monopoly, both cellular companies have fought an intense corporate- and product-awareness battle played out across any location in the country that could be branded. Vodafone’s marketing budget, that was once measured in the millions, is now in the tens of millions as the company tries to blunt Digicel’s penetration.

 

In marketing and commercial circles in Fiji, it is widely known that Goundar handles the majority of Vodafone’s lucrative signwriting and branding – including billboards, high-visibility signage and shop fitouts. 
Goundar has also won Vodafone contracts to erect repeater towers which he then subcontracts, despite having no obvious qualifications or relevant background.
It is understood that many of Goundar’s contracts were won without a tender process or rival quotes to benchmark against price or quality.
Separately, Fijileaks has been able to confirm that more than a decade ago Goundar and four others were hired by Lal to fit out the home that he has in Sydney – although it is not clear if this was paid for directly or indirectly by the mobile phone giant.
‘What Nicholas lacks in physical presence and school qualifications, he more than makes up for in natural charm and guile,’ one marketing executive told Fijileaks about the 43-year-old signwriter. Despite suffering from a squint which can cause problems with depth perception, Goundar fell into signwriting because of a brilliant talent as a free-hand artist. 
On the face of it, the FIRCA investigation into the Goundar-Vodafone Fiji relationship should be of intense interest to Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyam, the country’s all-powerful Minister of All Things.
In his 2016 budget address, Sayed-Khaiyum blasted companies who were failing to file correct tax returns or filed no tax returns (such as Goundar). He described this as ‘ducking their civic responsibilities’.
He told Parliament, ‘For example, one well-known company that owns major grocery outlets with other businesses across Fiji has paid no taxes in the last 6 years. Yet it is inconceivable that this company has made no profits. By not paying taxes, company management is denying services and opportunities to ordinary Fijians—the very people they need to sustain their business.’
Goundar’s non-TIN registered business was transacting with Vodafone Fiji Ltd but as the payee Vodafone Fiji Ltd stands guilty of abetting exactly what Sayed-Khaiyum accused the grocery company of doing.
Even more ironically, Sayed-Khaiyum went on to lambast those accountancy firms who conspired to manipulate or hide corporate transactions so that they avoided the scrutiny of FIRCA. 
‘We have also learned that a major accounting firm—in breach of its civic responsibility and the ethics of the accounting profession—has helped its clients make exaggerated claims of allowable expenses. This has to stop.’ 
Vodafone Fiji Ltd and ATH’s auditors are BDO, who signed off on the sham, inflated marketing invoices paying out to a non-TIN registered entity. Sayed-Khaiyum’s aunt Nur Bano Ali previously held the franchise for BDO but later lost it. BDO is currently represented by G. Lal & Co. The 2016 financial report showed that BDO earned more than $250,000 from the ATH relationship. G. Lal & Co is run by the brothers Nalin and Pardeep Patel.
Vodafone Fiji Ltd is the most important lucrative in ATH’s portfolio of investments, and the FNPF’s, and definitely the highest profile corporate member.
According to ATH’s 2016 financial report, the group’s revenue was $356m of which $260m was generated by the mobile phone operator – approximately three out of every four dollars. Profit after tax for ATH was nearly $82m of which Vodafone represented almost $52m, almost two-thirds.
With so much cash swimming around, one would expect Vodafone to be the entity under most scrutiny to uphold ATH’s corporate pledge to its shareholders (mostly FNPF and the Government, but also including various widely held trust funds and four provincial councils): 
•on Integrity: ‘Practising good corporate governance and being faithful to our stakeholders.’
•And Accountability: ‘Helping our stakeholders understand how we make decisions, taking ownership and being answerable and responsible for our actions.
Bainimarama favourite Ajit Kodagoda – the Sri Lankan accountant – is chairman of both FNPF and FIRCA (the ‘losers’ in this case) as well as ATH and Vodafone Fiji (the culprits); he is at the same time hopelessly compromised and uniquely positioned to help Vodafone avoid trouble as FIRCA has sole prosecutorial and enforcement powers over tax code breaches.
Were he not implicated in this debacle, this whole issue should also be of critical interest to Kodagoda who told FBC in November 2015 how difficult FIRCA’s job was when so few followed the basic tax code. 
‘There’s 10,000 companies registered in Fiji, out of this 10,000, only 4,000 submit any returns at all, that means 6,000 people are not even bothering to send a return and out of the 4,000, only 1,000 actually send any return, right and pay some tax, so out of the 10,000 companies registered, 1,000 people pay tax.’
Goundar’s sign-writing operation was not even registered let alone paying taxes, as Fijileaksunderstands. Yet Goundar was being sustained by payments signed off by the CEO of Vodafone Fiji Ltd whose chairman was Kodagoda who – wearing a different hat – was charged with cracking down on such tax-dodging malfeasance. 
Wearing yet another series of hats, Kodagoda was responsible for acting on behalf of FNPF, the majority owners of both ATH and, with ATH of, Vodafone Fiji Ltd, to maximise the income derived from the superannuation fund’s investments for the benefit of the country’s pensioner community.
The act that governs FIRCA stipulates that the chairman should normally be the Permanent Secretary of Finance but Kodagoda was appointed in 2011 direct from the private sector where he remains employed. For, in addition to his various chairmanships, Kodagoda is still listed as the finance controller of the CJ Patel Group which has benefitted handsomely from a number of Bainimarama initiatives such as the free milk and Weet-bix initiatives for primary school students. 
The media have reported that CJ Patel-owned Rewa Milk meant for Year 1 students was in fact being sold on the street and in markets, while the auditor-general complained that his office were not able to reconcile the school vouchers issued so it was not clear how much of the more than $2m in milk provided in 2015 actually went to students.
CJ Patel are also owners of the pro-regime newspaper Fiji Sun which has been propped up the government’s ban on advertising in the more popular Fiji Times.
So powerful is Kodagoda that Fijileaks was contacted by FIRCA employees anxious that Vodafone’s involvement in what started as a non-payment of taxes investigation into Goundar may be ‘fixed up’ to minimise embarrassment to the Bainimarama government to whom the mobile phone operator have been slavishly devoted supporters.
Bainimarama has consistently acted in favour of Vodafone’s interests in the intense battle with Digicel for dominance of the domestic cellular market. In 2015, Kodagoda – as chairman of Vodafone Fiji Ltd – announced that the company was gifting Bainimarama and his wife a return business class trip to the Rugby World Cup’s opening match plus accommodation, estimated to be worth $65,000.
This was just at the time that the Fiji Rugby Union had served a 30-day termination notice on Vodafone to end their controversial sponsorship deal which was announced as being worth $40m over five years. By the end of the first year, Vodafone had paid less than $3m of the pledged $8m, hence the termination letter.
But thanks to the involvement of Bainimarama – president of the FRU – and the money-no-object trip to see Fiji play England at the RWC, the differences were papered over and Vodafone remains the lead sponsor of the FRU – but still only paying less than $3m a year.
It is not clear how far back FIRCA’s investigations have gone but the relationship between Goundar and Lal is significantly more than a decade old. Lal has held multiple senior positions at Vodafone, such as chief financial officer, chief marketing officer and COO, between 1997 and when he became CEO.
Before becoming CEO, Lal was number two to Aslam Khan and if FIRCA has uncovered wrong-doing that stretches back to Khan’s time, serious questions have to be asked of Khan’s legacy. 
In addition, the investigation may have international ramifications because it was only in mid-2014 that the final 49 percent of Vodafone Fiji Ltd was purchased by the FNPF from Vodafone International Holdings BV. 
If significant kickbacks can be clearly demonstrated that may have impacted on dividends paid out by Vodafone Fiji Ltd to their minority owner over past years, and these tainted results affected the valuations that Vodafone International Holdings BV accepted as part of the negotiations, then many lawyers will busy for a long time to come. 
The BVI-registered company was paid F$160 million for their 49 percent stake.
http://www.fijileaks.com/home/vodafone-in-crisis-as-firca-probes-multi-million-dollar-signage-kickbacks-fnpf-pensioners-could-have-lost-millions-ffp-regime-favourite-kodagoda-hopelessly-compromised-sign-writer-key-suspect

Mobile Phone Gambling Illegal

by: National Newspaper

GAMBLING services should not be offered on mobile networks, Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) commissioner and chief executive Paulus Ain, pictured, says.

He said offering of gambling services on mobile networks would require inter government agency cooperation to address this issue.

“The ICCC had previously looked into the issue of gambling services offered to customers through text messages”, Ain said.

He was responding to questions on the issue yesterday.

“For any gambling that should occur in any setting must be licensed by Gaming Control Board to do that.

“Several times we have handled this and said, look you (mobile network operator) are not entitled to do this.

Mobile Gambling

“You only should be providing call services or internet services and what is prescribed under your licence.

“This has gone into hibernation mode until it has just been raised it again which is good. We will look at it again.

“That was our stance in the past but it has just gone dead.”

ICCC special projects officer Jacqueline Waffi highlighted that there was a need to address this in collaboration the National Information and Communication Technology Authority that had the enforcement power to deal with this matter.

Meanwhile, commenting on ExxonMobil’s acquisition of InterOil, Ain said ExxonMobil “will sit down again and talk” with ICCC on competition concerns.

This followed the Supreme Court of Yukon’s recent ruling approving the acquisition.

Ain said this was prompted by the commissions’ intent to announce findings from its independent investigation on the merger while stating that public would be updated soon on this.

“I think the most latest one was that the managing director (ExxonMobil PNG) came over and brought us up to speed on where they are and I think the court gave them the clearance and they have proceeded through with the acquisition,” he said.

http://www.thenational.com.pg/mobile-gambling-not-backed/

Manumanu Inquiry headed by QC John Griffin

BY ISAAC NICHOLAS 

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has appointed a Queen’s Counsel from Australia, John Griffin, to lead an administrative inquiry into the controversial Manumanu land transactions.

PM O’Neill said the process of the inquiry starts today with Mr Griffin to appoint his team of professionals that will take four weeks at a cost of K2 million with the report to be presented to Parliament on March 28.

He said yesterday that a commission of inquiry which he had announced could not be set up because a matter was before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of commissions of inquiry.

“The NEC has met and acknowledged that there must be principles of accountability and transparency in all transactions that all agencies of government do on behalf of the State. It is important that this has been put to question and we need to take a firm action to deal with this matter.

“It is also important to note that as I have indicated in Parliament that there will be a commission of inquiry and after so many legal advice that I have sought and because of an ongoing court action that is now before the Supreme Court.

He said the Fly River provincial government and Posman Kua lawyers had taken out a court action against the Government and NEC and the PM as chairman of NEC questioning the legality of commissions of inquiry, particularly in relation to the matter that was beforehand during that inquiry being the legal fees that were paid to many lawyers which was the subject of the inquiry.

Manu Manu Plains

He said a five-man Supreme Court bench sat for the hearing of that case and a decision is pending, and that questions the legality of commissions of inquiry.

“That is why NEC has decided that we will have an inquiry that is administrative in nature but the principles of accountability, transparency and all the other administrative requirements will still be conducted by a leading legal professional.
“The NEC has appointed John Griffin, QC of the Queensland Bar, to enquire and report on the five land transactions through this inquiry.

“Mr Griffin is a leading lawyer, well experienced, highly qualified and he is well versed with the laws of our country.

“This appointment will not prevent the on-going investigations that are now before the police fraud squad, the Ombudsman Commission and the Department of Personnel Management in respect of the staff and senior public servants that have been implicated in this matter.

“The inquiry will look into the role of relevant Ministers, the role of relevant departmental heads and their officers, and heads of various state owned enterprises.

“It will look at the role of the management of many of these organisations, the role of the Valuer General in terms of the valuations of the land that was purchased, and of course the recommendations of this inquiry will be made to cabinet within four (4) weeks and we report to Parliament on the findings of the inquiry.”

He said the two Ministers and other departmental heads remain suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry.

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