Former Papua New Guinea PM received 'dirty money' from Singaporean
The Grand Chief of Papua New Guinea, who is known as PNG's father of independence, has been implicated in a money-laundering trial in Singapore.
Sir Michael Thomas Somare, 80, was serving as Prime Minister when he received US$784,000 (S$1.07 million) in dirty money here in 2010, court documents show.
Sir Michael was one of two people who received criminal proceeds from a Singaporean woman, Lim Ai Wah and her American husband, Thomas Philip Doehrman, who were both sentenced to jail yesterday.
Lim had said that she first issued Sir Michael a cheque for US$280,000 to his personal bank account when he came to Singapore for medical treatment in August 2010.
She added that he came to Singapore again the following month and she wrote him a second cheque for US$280,000.
Lim said she wrote him a third cheque, this time for US$224,000, when he came to Singapore in November that year.
The documents from the Attorney-General's Chambers also pointed to Chinese national Li Weiming, 33, who worked for multi-national company ZTE Corporation.
The prosecution said the couple remitted US$850,000 from Singapore to his wife's Hong Kong bank account in 2010.
Li had been charged in Singapore but absconded while out on bail.
After a 28-day trial that started in a Singapore court on March 3 last year, Lim, now 61, director of Questzone Offshore, was sentenced to five years' jail yesterday.
Doehrman, now 68, director of Quest Petroleum, was sentenced to five years and 10 months' jail.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong found them guilty of six charges each.
Lim and Doehrman were each convicted of one count of engaging in a conspiracy in mid-2010 to falsify a paper belonging to Questzone to commit fraud.
The judge also convicted each of them to five charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
In their closing submissions, the prosecution said the couple's case involved a project to set up community colleges in Papua New Guinea.
Its government approved the project and established the Inclusive Education for National Development for Community Education Trust (ITE Trust) to fund it.
The board of the ITE Trust had three trustees and Doehrman was one of them. ZTE Corporation was also engaged to deliver services to the Trust and it named Questzone - a shell company - as its sub-contractor. In mid 2010, Doehrman and his wife falsified a Questzone invoice dated July 15 that year. It was then issued to ZTE Corporation, asking it to pay US$3.6 million for purported services.
When the couple received the money, they disbursed a portion of it to Li and Sir Michael.
For falsifying the Questzone paper to commit fraud, they could have each been jailed up to 10 years and fined.
And for each charge under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, they could have been jailed up to seven years and fined up to $500,000.
Court papers did not mention any action against Sir Michael.