All clear on Cairns: PM
Somares defend buying houses
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare and his son, Arthur, who is the Minister for State Enterprise, said yesterday there was nothing illegal or corrupt over their purchase of two homes in Cairns, Australia.
Sir Michael, who is in Sydney and is due to meet his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd today, said in a statement he had nothing to hide over his Cairns property purchase which was duly cleared by relevant PNG and Australian authorities.
This was a business transaction that was cleared by the Internal Revenue Commission and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Sir Michael said.
The Prime Minister was referring to an article in a Queensland newspaper that the Somares were being investigated over private deals linked to more than A$1 million worth of luxury properties in Cairns.
The newspaper said Sir Michael bought a A$395,000 (K692,000) three-bedroom apartment, with a private plunge pool in inner-city Cairns last April, in a deal brokered by a Gold Coast lawyer, while two months ago, son Arthur bought a A$685,000 (K1.2 million) four-bedroom home with his wife at Trinity Beach, just north of Cairns.
Arthur Somare also denied any suggestion of wrongdoing in the purchase of his property, explaining that it was to accommodate his children studying in Australia.
Sir Michael said he was surprised by the Queensland newspapers claims that his family was being investigated.
I am not aware of any formal advice, either by PNG or Australian authorities, that I am being investigated.
I wouldnt want to think that the newspaper had suddenly decided to investigate me, Sir Michael said.
He said it was interesting that this media investigation only looked into this transaction while similar business transactions in Australia by PNG leaders, both past and present, were hardly raised.
Mr Somare told AAP in Port Moresby yesterday that he detested the Australian newspapers suggestion that his leadership of the A$14.7 billion ExxonMobil-led liquified natural gas (LNG) project was linked to the purchase of a house for his children.
It is unfortunate I deal with a high-profile project and, as such, they wish to draw connections, Mr Somare said.
Ive sold a property here in Port Moresby to acquire a personal property in Cairns; it is an investment for the future.
Like my father before me, I take the same opportunity to educate my children in Australia, he said.
I have purchased a property in Australia ... to make sure they have appropriate housing while they are educated in Australia.
But the Ombudsman Commission, Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta and his deputy Bart Philemon said it had to be asked where the money had come from.
Ombudsman Commission legal counsel Vergil Narokobi said the commission would investigate.
It is quite possible it is legitimate, Mr Narokobi said.
We will look to see if there were any breaches of the Leadership Code.
Sir Mekere said the Somare family owed it to the PNG people to reveal their assets.
They should both publicly explain how they obtained this real estate, Sir Mekere, who this year bought a A$3.6 million (K6.3 million) riverfront mansion at New Farm in Brisbanes inner city under his wife Roslyns name, said.
Mr Philemon said: They have to tell people in PNG how they funded those properties, otherwise, it smells fishy.http://www.thenational.com.pg/110708/nation1.php