Climate corruption in Papua New Guinea: Response from the whistleblower, Alfred Rungol. “A lot of abuse by some of the senior management officers and their cronies”
More on the allegations of corruption in the Climate Change and Development Authority
In April 2023, police in Papua New Guinea arrested Ivan Aipi, finance manager at the Climate Change and Development Authority. Aipi faces 35 charges, including corruption, abuse of office, and misappropriation of funds.
Also arrested was CCDA’s financial examiner, Jane Daniel, charged with five counts of misappropriation, official corruption, conspiracy to defraud, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Police accuse her of allegedly being involved in printing 68 cheques amounting to a total of about US$150,000 without proper records of transactions.
William Lakain, CCDA’s Acting Managing Director, responded to the allegations of corruption with a media statement published in The Nation on 3 May 2023.
In his response, Lakain rejected the allegations and stated that the whistleblower is a “disgruntled former staff member who has taken to the media to air his grievances”. Lakain argued that,
“the individual falls short to qualify for whistleblower protection under the Whistleblower’s Act since his dismissal and disciplinary actions which took place well before his present complaint of the purported allegations through the media.”
Alfred Rungol, the whistleblower in question, was in court on the day Lakain’s media statement was published. Rungol has now issued his own media statement, posted in full below.
Rungol was sacked from the CCDA after he alerted management about possible misappropriation of funds and corruption in the CCDA. In his media statement he refers to two official letters reinstating him to his position in the CCDA, one from the Department of Personnel Management, dated 13 October 2022, and one from the Chief Secretary to Government, dated 7 February 2023:
Here is the media statement in full (also available here):
It was submitted in Court yesterday in closing arguments before His Honor Justice Anis that Mr. Alfred Rungol, a government officer and an expert in United Nation Framework on Convention and Climate Change (UNFCCC), who was terminated from his employment from the CCDA after raising issues of corruption and misappropriation within the CCDA was duly reinstated by the Department of Personnel Management on the official letter dated on 13th October, 2022.
The submissions were put before the court by His Lawyer Henry Monei. It was also stated that an official letter from Chief Secretary of Prime Minister and National Executive Council dated 07th February, 2023 was also written to the CCDA as a reminder for them have Mr. Rungol reinstated as per the letter from Ms. Taies Sansan but it also wasn't adhered to.
The decision was made after it was found that the allegations against Alfred Rungol were deemed void and unrelated.
The process and procedures were not followed under Mr Rungol's public service senior officer contract pursuant to section 41 of the Public Service Management Act, and its related regulations, that is the Public Service General Order and the provision of his contract.
As a result, the allegations were deemed to be without merit. “It is all unrelated administrative charges, I was asking several questions regarding funds that were abused for personal gain by some CCDA officers thus I was subjected to termination. I have been vocal on issues of corruption and abuse of office in CCDA since 2018/19 till present, there are a lot of abuse by some of the senior management officers and their cronies, said Mr. Rungol”.
Its good the Police department is investigating the case, and we hope everything will surface in due course.
When asked by Counsel Monei whether Interim Orders 4 and 5 would hinder the role of Police in accordance with s.197 of the Constitution, His Honor stated that the Arrest Warrant was in no way affected by the Interim Orders. “Police can effect the Warrant of Arrest any time, the Interim Orders are only in relation to Police involving themselves in the reinstatement issue”, His Honor stated.
As a reinstated government officer, Mr. Rungol can use the Whistle-blower Act to report any abuse of office, corruption, or mismanagement. This Act protects and allows any official speaking about corruption or any related issues to do so without fear of retribution.
As our good Government has stated, we have now the Whistle Blowers Act and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to look into such matter.
“I thank the Marape-Rosso Government for their leadership and support against such activities. We need to fight against such action and system within our society, we cannot be seen as a country that is filled with corruption and the onus is on us individuals to be vocal and go against such practice, said Mr. Rungol.
The allegations against funds misappropriation are related to police evidence and investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation, Mr. Rungol has no comments on this matter or issue. It’s a Police matter, we now depend on the Police to carry out its mandate.
ABC News Australia have reported what is factual to them, they are an international media entity, if they have factual information to report then they will report, said Mr. Rungol.
According, to Mr. Rungol’s legal counsel, Mr. Monei, “we are in court over my client’s reinstatement, Mr. Rungol’s reinstatement is very clear, and as per his contract, the Department of Personal Management (DPM) has absolute powers over his contract under Section 41 of the Public Service Management Act. The act clearly binds Mr. Rungol and the state, which is administrated by DPM’s Secretary. The Managing Director of Climate Change and Development Authority acts on behalf of the DMP Secretary – simple and straight forward said Counsel Monei.
He further stated that, in absence of provision of administrating of personal matter under Climate Change (Management) Act 2015; the Public Service (Management) Act 1995 takes precedence in administering the discipline of senior contract officers in line with the Public Service General Order- number 9.
We have to take note and consider that, there are authorities who we report to and we have legal processes we must follow. I commend Mr. Rungol for his stance which he has clearly stood by throughout his redress and even through the court. He had to sacrifice the entire 9 months (without pay) in order to resolve these issues, it’s not easy but he fought this through professionally.
According to DPM Secretary’s official directive to CCDA, Mr. Rungol’s must be reinstated and have him put back to his substantive position with all loss salaries and benefits paid effective of the next available pay period.
Mr. Monei also raised the issue of “locus standi” of the Plaintiff (William Lakain) to initiate this proceeding against his client since his appointment by NEC as the Acting Managing Director of CCDA was for a period of 12 months from July 28 2021 to July 28 2022 and asked for the proceeding to be dismissed in its entirety with costs.
His Honour reserved his Judgment to a later date to be advised.
Satisfied by these decisions, Mr. Rungol said there are so many outstand work to be done, project and programs to implement in PNG. We need to implement this with our national and international development partners for the good of this country through process designed to be transparent, free from conflicts of interest, and in accordance with PNG laws and international best practices
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PNG when are we going to be educated? Corruption by top brass, highly educated is unacceptable. Our parents sent us to a Westernized style of education to change our primitive mindsets from carniba l to more humane mindset and it has been over 100 years of civilization. Over 40 years of Independence, resource rich nation yet poor because we continue to steal from each other. Nepotism in high office appointments (Whom you know) also contributes to stealing.
How are we going to change and make ouse of our natural resource so that we lift off from lowest poverty scale? STOP STEALING!!! Look at Dubai, Just oil = RICH; PNG, Oil, Gas, Coper, Nickel,Gold, Silver, Forestry, Argriculture and others = POOR! PNG what is hapeining???
Thanks, Kathleen, Land grabbing for Carbon offsetting is slowly gaining momentum in PNG. Can somebody educate us properly about its advantages and disadvantages?