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Morauta To Sue, But Maladina Sticks To His Guns

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Morauta To Sue, But Maladina Sticks To His Guns

by the editor, Yehiura Hriehwazi

PORT MORESBY (The National/Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinea's former Ombudsman Commissioner Angau Wangatau yesterday refused to comment on an alleged meeting in 1999 between himself, ex-prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta and former NPF chairman Jimmy Maladina.

And with only a day to go before the tabling of the National Provident Fund Commission of Inquiry Report in Parliament, Maladina said he also looked forward to it so that he could get on with his life.

In the meantime, Morauta who is now Opposition Leader, said in a one-paragraph statement yesterday that he had instructed his lawyers to "begin defamation proceedings against The National newspaper, its editor (Mr Yehiura Hriehwazi) and Mr Jimmy Maladina."

Maladina said from Brisbane last night that he stood by "every word" attributed to him in the page one article of The National on Monday, November 18, under the headline: "Maladina tells all".

"I welcome the challenge by Sir Mekere 100 percent and I stand by the article and the quotes word for word," said Maladina.

"My first comment is that Sir Mekere is trying to question my statement and evidence about the meeting with him. I welcome his challenge because we can then go to an independent tribunal or an impartial court in Papua New Guinea and have a fair trial.

"The second and most important thing is that I unequivocally stand by my statement, every word I said and I reiterate them again. I welcome his challenge to the statement I provided.

"This time it will be different, because it will be impartial and it will not be one of his kangaroo courts that he ran in the last two years... you have a defence," said Maladina, who himself is a lawyer.

Wangatau, then a private businessman, owned a fishing company, Sengus Investment Ltd, and simultaneously worked for Ram Business Consultants, an accounting firm owned by prominent local businessman Rex Paki.

Wangatau was approached by The National to respond to claims by Maladina that that he (Wangatau) had organised a meeting with Morauta at his company Delta Seafoods office with Maladina and one of his corporate clients where financing of politics to oust then Prime Minister Mr Bill Skate was discussed.

Wangatau was asked if he had facilitated the meeting and received any money from Carter Newell Lawyers, but he said, "no".

Maladina was the managing partner of the law firm now renamed Pacific Legal Group.

Asked if he had read the story on the front page of The National newspaper naming him (Wangatau), he said he hasn't read the newspaper. When urged to read the story and then respond, he said: "If I need to... I don't need to say anything... I can't comment."

Wangatau was then employed with Ram Business Consultants and simultaneously managed his own fishing company, Sengus. Its catches were landed in overseas markets through Delta Seafoods Ltd, owned by Morauta.

Ram Business Consultants managing director Rex Paki yesterday denied his firm received any money from Carter Newell Lawyers.

However, he said it could have gone direct to Wangatau and he was not aware of any deals between the parties.

He said he did not wish to comment on the matter as he was not familiar with it.

Paki said Wangatau left the accounting firm soon after he nominated to contest the general elections against Sir Mekere in Moresby North-west electorate.

"Ango was not happy with me standing against Sir Mekere so he left Ram. But I was doing it on principle, I was not happy with the way the privatisation process was going," said Paki.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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