Former PNG PM O’Neill to stand trial over Israeli generators purchase

Former PNG PM Peter O'Neill
Former PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill ... "We urgently need a Papua New Guinean who has a vision for our country and who can pull the nation together and lead us forward." Image: RNZ

By RNZ Pacific

Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has been committed to stand trial for charges of misappropriation and official corruption

A Waigani Committal Court magistrate Tracey Ganaii yesterday found there was sufficient evidence on the two charges.

They relate to the state purchase of two generators from Israel seven years ago when O’Neill was prime minister.

Police allege that O’Neill directed payments for the purchase without proper procurement and tender processes, or parliamentary approval.

O’Neill told media outside court that he welcomed the chance to defend the case.

“There was no personal benefit on my part in this case. But there is a suggestion by some of the witnesses that it was official corruption and misappropriation of unbudgeted items. But we have not presented our evidence in court, which we will do in the National Court.”

O’Neill previously defended the US$14 million purchase of the generators as being a necessary step to addressing chronic electricity blackouts experienced in PNG’s main cities of Port Moresby and Lae.

PNG’s parliamentary opposition filed a police complaint about the purchase in early 2014.

The former prime minister insisted that the decision was approved by his cabinet, the National Executive Council.

“Largely, this is a NEC-endorsed decision. The purchase was endorsed by NEC.

“The court thought that there has been differences of timing, and there was sufficiency of that to bring the matter up to the National Court, and we look forward to defending it there.”

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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