Friday, 30 September 2016

A post-analysis of Singapore deal: Papua New Guinea Community College Trust Scandal - Part 2

by BRYAN KRAMER

THIS is part two of a seven (7) part series of articles providing insight into the recent decision by Singapore Supreme Court to convict (find guilty) and imprison former Chairman of PNG Community College Trust Thomas Doehrman and his Singapore wife Lim Ai Wah over fraud and money laundering offences. 

In Part One, I provided details of the charges and decision of the Court including background information to answer the question what is PNG Community College Trust, why it was established and the parties involved in its dealings.
This article will focus on the findings of police investigation's surrounding the payment of the secret commission of $3.6 million paid by ZTE Corporation that led to formal charges being laid against Doehrman, his Singapore wife Lim Ai Wah and Chinese national Li Weiming former employee of ZTE Corporation. 

I explained in Part 1 sometime in early 2010 members of Trust which included Chairman Doehrman, Deputy Chairman Michael Somare Jnr (nickname Moox) and Greg Sheppard met with ZTE Corporation's representative Li Weiming (nickname Stephen) to supply equipment and build infrastructure for community college project in PNG valued at US$35 million.

The contract included ZTE Corporation being main contractor to supply the entire project, completing and assisting phase 1 and phase 2 with the gateway satellite connectivity to set the stage for all 89 community college by 2015 with virtual university and nation-wide e-books (online library).

However before the contract was formally awarded ZTE Corporation received an invoice dated 15 July 2010 for the amount of $3.6 million from a company called Questzone Offshore Ltd, that only registered in British Virgin Islands a month earlier on 4 May 2010 by Doehrman's wife Lim Wah. She registered her sister Lim Swee Kheng and herself as company directors.

British Virgin Islands are an offshore tax haven (tax free) jurisdiction where most companies operate without having to disclose their ownership or business dealings.

Following the registration of the company in BVI Wah also setup a company account with the Standards Chartered Bank (SCB) in Singapore.

In July 2010, Wah instructed her sister to invoice ZTE Corporation for $3.6 million in respect of a "Contract for Equipment Supply" of Education System for PNG Community College and Technical Education System between "ITE Trust" and "ZTE Corporation."

The invoice dated 15 July 2010 was issued under a cover letter entitled "Service Contract" for Education for System of PNG Community College Fund and Technical Vocational Education System.

On 30 July 2010 pursuant to the invoice, ZTE Corporation paid into Questzone's Singapore account $3.6 million.

On 3 August 2010 Wah arranged the transfer of $US750,000 from Questzone's Singapore SCB account to a Hong Kong HSBC bank account registered under the company J&M International Ltd. A company set up under Stephen's wife.

On 16 August 2010 Wah issued a Questzone cheque for $280,000 payable to Sir Michael Thomas Somare. On 17 August 2010 she deposited it into his Singapore Foreign Investment Cheque and Savings Account held with Standard Chartered Bank. On the same date a lump sum cash withdrawal of US$250,000 was made from the same account.

On 1 September 2010 Wah issued a second cheque payable to Sir Michael Thomas Somare for the same amount. The cheque was deposited on 2nd September 2010. Again on same date $250,000 was withdrawn, however this time in two equal transactions; a cash withdraw of US$125,000 and the second transfer of $125,000 to a general account (OneAccount) also held in Somare's name.

On 3rd September 2010 a transfer of US$168,500 was registered into Somare's general account to believed part of $125,000 + plus additional US43,500 presumably in cash. The same day the total $168,500 was again withdraw in cash.

On 12 November 2010 Wah issued a third cheque payment to Sir Michael Thomas Somare for US$244,000. On 7 December 2010 $220,000 cheque withdrawal (323213) - payee unknown.

Three payments made to Somare totaled $784,000 were made into Somare's Foreign Investment Cheque and Savings Account held with Singapore Standard Chartered Bank. A total of $625,000 was withdraw in cash. $125,5000 was transferred to his general account which was also withdraw in cash.

On 29 November Wah arranged a second and last transfer of $US100,000 from Questzone's Singapore SCB account to Stephen's wife's company account in Hong Kong, bringing the total to US$850,000 (US$750,000 + US$100,000)

A summary of the transactions out of Questzone Offshore Ltd SCB account are as follows:

30/07/10 deposit of US$3.6 million by ZTE Corporation
03/08/10 transfer of US$750,000 to Stephen's wife Co. HK Acct
16/08/10 cheque pmt $280,000 to Somare's Singapore SCB Acct
01/01/10 cheque pmt $280,000 to Somare's Singapore SCB Acct
12/11/10 cheque pmt $244,000 to Somare's Singapore SCB Acct
29/11/10 transfer of US$100,000 to Stephen's wife Co. HK Acct

Total receipts $3,600,000
Total disbursements $1,634,000
Balance remaining $1,966,000

A summary of the transactions in relation Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare's Singapore account.

Foreign Investment Cheque and Savings Account:
17/10/10 deposit $280,000
17/19/10 cash withdrawal ($250,000)
02/09/10 deposit $280,000
02/09/10 cash withdrawal ($125,000)
02/09/10 transfer general acct ($125,000)

Total deposits $784,000
Total cash withdrawal ($625,000)
Balance of funds remaining in acct $159,000

Note: the source of the details in relation to Somare's bank transactions were from copiers of purported bank statement posted online by a paid publicist of O'Neill Government. The documents are yet to be independently validated. Singapore Prosecution made no reference to copies of Somare's bank statements during the court proceedings other than confirm the deposit of funds (US$784,000) that originated from Questzone Offshore Ltd and made into his account.

Now sometime between November 2010 and early 2011 members of Singapore Fraud and Anti-corruption agency formally known as Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) initiated investigations into the matter. They have yet to disclose whether they were acting on a formal complaint lodged with their office or notified by banking system following large cash withdrawals from Somare's account.

Following their investigations CPIB believed that Doehrman, Wah and Stephen Li conspired to defraud ZTE Corporation of $3.6 million and further aided and abetted in the unlawful transfer of criminal proceeds (money laundering) to their benefit as well as Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael Somare Jnr.

On 15 March 2011 CPIB picked up Lim Wah for questioning in relation to allegations over the fraud and money laundering offences related to the payment of $3.6 million by ZTE Corporation.

Doehrman and Stephen were also picked up for interview on 16th & 17th March 2011 respectively. Lim Wah was subjected to a further interview on 18th March 2011.

In the interest of avoiding publishing long winded articles I will keep my posts to around 1,000+ words.

In Part 3, I will discuss the statements submitted by Doehrman and Wah during the course of police interviews which the Prosecution relied on to secure their convictions. We will also discuss how they tried to change their position in an effort to have the charges dismissed on technical grounds as well as the culpability (criminal liability) if any against Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael Somare Jnr.

It's important to note this story has so many twists and turns involving so many parties trying to unravel it all and explain it in layman terms does take some time. We will also revisit Susan Merrell's publication on the issue and confirm it be malicious, grossly over opinionated and incompetent reporting of the facts.

Photo: Doehrman and Sheppard meeting with Fr./Dr. Xavier Alphonse and ZTE officials in Singapore in 2012.
Note: There are seven (7) parts to this articles: 
Part One: Singapore Supreme Court sentenced former Chairman of PNG Community College Trust American Thomas Doehrman (Doorman) and his Singapore wife Lim Ai Wah to prison for 5 years 10 months and 5 years respectively after finding them guilty of conspiring with Chinese national Li Weiming to defraud US$3.6 million (K11.6 million) from the ZTE corporation - a Chinese company that is a global supplier of information, technology and telecommunications equipment that was awarded $35 million contract by the PNG Community College Trust.
It explains what is PNG Community College????   

  Part Two: Provides insights into the decision by Singapore Supreme Court to convict (find guilty) and imprison former Chairman of PNG Community College Trust Thomas Doehrman and his Singapore wife Lim Ai Wah over fraud and money laundering offences.
It reveals how the deal was done to award the contract.?????? 

Part Three: A discussion on the extracts from the statements submitted by Doehrman and his wife, Lim during the course of the first police interviews which the Prosecution relied during the trial to secure their conviction's.
It shows what was done behind the closed doors????

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