Sunday, 16 October 2016

A post-analysis of Singapore deal: Papua New Guinea Community College Trust scandal - Part 5

by BRYAN KRAMER

THIS is part 5 of an eight (8) part series of articles providing insight into the recent decision by Singapore Supreme Court to convict 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 5 we will review the evidence implicating Somare and his son Michael Jnr (Moox), whether is it credible and sufficient to bring criminal charges against them in Singapore.

Also whether any criminal charges can be pursued against Somare in PNG following the Singapore Supreme Court ruling.

So to answer two key questions every Papua New Guinean is asking:

1) Is Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare guilty of committing the same criminal offences?

2) If yes, then based on the Singapore Supreme Court ruling can and will he be charged and prosecuted in PNG?

Before we consider the evidence to answer these two important questions lets first consider whether the Singapore Public Prosecutor believes Somare is innocent or guilty.

The Prosecution made the following statements in their submission during Doehrman and Lim's court trial:

paragraph 23 - Summary of Prosecution's case
The Prosecution's case is that Lim, Doehrman and Stephen agreed ZTE would pay Lim and Doehrman US$3.6 million which would in turn be distributed to:

(a) Doehrman
(b) Lim
(c) Moox (Michael Somare Jnr)
(d) PM Somare; and
(e) Stephen Li

paragraph 24:
"The conspirators understood that the payment of this US$3.6 million had to be disguised as the intended recipients were all in obvious positions of conflict by virtue of their direct involvement in the PNG Community College Project or relationships to such involved persons:"

(a) Doehrman was a trustee of the Trust;
(b) Lim is Doehrman's wife;
(c) Moox was the Deputy Chairman of the Trust;
(d) PM Somare was Moox's father, and also the Prime Minister of PNG; and
(e) Stephen Li represented his employer ZTE for the Project.

(Note the prosecution refers to Somare and his son as conspirators - person(s) who is party to a secret plan to commit a criminal offence)

paragraph 27:
"As for the conspiracy charges.... these were made out since the relevant sums were paid - as planned- out of the $3.6 million (ie, the criminal proceeds from the conspiracy to commit falsification) either to PM Somare (in Singapore) or to Li (via his wife's company in Hong Kong."

At the hearing for sentencing the Deputy Public Prosecutor submitted to the Court the fact that some of the laundered money was traced to then PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somore's bank account in Singapore will cause public disquiet" (distress)

He added: "the sentences imposed on Doehrman and Lim must reflect the seriousness of the present offences which include illicit payments made to a foreign prime minister." .

In the end the Supreme Court imposed a 5 year and 10 months prison sentence against Doehrman and 5 years against Lim.

Stephen Li Weiming was never convicted as he failed to appear at the trial after fleeing the country while out on bail. Singapore Court has issued a warrant for his immediate arrest.

Following the sentencing the Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) issued the following public statements:

"This is a very significant case in Singapore's fight against corruption and money laundering. Singapore should not be seen as a haven for slush funds to pass through to the hands of errant or greedy politicians. A strong deterrent message must be sent to safe-guard Singapore's position as a clean and corrupt free environment for business transactions."

The Singapore Attorney-General’s Office said: “Doehrman and Lim have appealed against their convictions and sentences. After the case against them is finally resolved, we will review the situation in respect of Somare.”

So it is beyond any doubt based on the Prosecution's submissions and subsequent media statements following the Court's ruling they believe Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael Jnr. (Moox) are party to the conspiracy and guilty of the same offences.

More importantly they have issued a statement indicating they intend to pursue the matter against Somare once Doehrman and Lim's appeal is determined.

So was Somare and/or his son part of the conspiracy to falsify documents with the intent to defraud and launder the criminal proceeds to his Singapore account and also Stephen's wife company account in Hong Kong?

To address this important question lets first consider the evidence submitted by the Prosecution during Doehrman's and Lim's trial that implicates Somare and his son.

1) Lim's statements made during Police record of interview that makes specific reference to Somare's alleged involvement:

(a) PS7 (Police Statement 7)

paragraph 7:
"Sometime in the beginning of 2010, Stephen Li met up with me and told me to setup British Virgin Islands (BVI) company as he wanted to make payments to the PM, PNG ... had given the community college project to ZTE. He also told me that his wife will be setting up a company and he will be receiving payments through the BVI company. He told me that his bosses did not want to make any payments to Quest Petroleum and wanted a BVI company. I understand that ZTE have to pay the PM, PNG in order to get the work in Papua New Guinea."

paragraph 22:
"I was asked by the recorder if I know that the money from ZTE deposited into Questzone bank account was proceeds of crime. I wish to say yes that if you don't pay to the PM, PNG you will not be able to get business from Papua New Guinea"

(b) PS8 (Police Statement 8)

Lim referred to a document which she said recorded a unanimous decision (all in agreement) between her, Doehrman and Stephen as to the arrangements regarding the US$3.6 million.

paragraph 39:
"I am now asked by the recorder whether any arrangements were made regarding the $3.6 million. I wish state on a few occasions in 2010 the details of which I cannot remember, myself, my husband Tom and Stephen met up to discuss this issue. I produce the diagram to explain the outcome of our discussion which was unanimous. Eventually we decided that out of the $3.6 million, I should get a total of US$950,000.00...

paragraph 41:
"I wish to state that the $850,000 stated in the above diagram refers to an amount to be given to ZTE" Stephen had asked me to transfer $750,000 first to J&M International remaining $100,000 to be sent later.."

paragraph 42:
"I wish to state that the 3 payments labelled Housing in the diagram were made for purpose of PM PNG to pay for his house and his son to pay for a separate house. PM PNG had told me and my husband on a few occasions that he needed money to pay for his house and that he was planning to borrow money from banks for that reason" Hence the $280,000 and $244,000 stated in the diagram were meant for PM PNG's use housing loans."

"Sometime in 2010 I received a call from the son of PM PNG asking me to send money to him. I told him the amount set aside for him was $280,000 but since he did not have an account in Singapore, I wrote a cheque to PM PNG's bank account and told him to pass the money to his son."

2) Doehrman's statements made during his Police record of interview that makes specific reference to Somare's alleged involvement:

(a) PS1 (Police Statement 1)

paragraph 15:
"I did not want to get involved in the money aspect of it hence Ai Wah [Lim] subsequently got in touch with Stephen and they liaised on the setting up of Questzone Offshore to facilitate the payment of the 10% monies of commission into the bank account of Questzone Offshore. The PM, the Pm's son and Stephen would get in touch with Ai and do the transfer of shares"

(b) PS2 (Police Statement 2)

Question 2:
"What is business activity of Questzone Offshore Limiited?"

His Answer:
"From what I know Questzone Offshore Limited has no business interest dealings. It was set up to collect commission and made payments out of Ai Wah [Lim], PM of PNG, Moox, and Stephen and also told the contingency monies..."

Question 8:
"Who decides on the amount of the commission to be paid? "

His Answer:
"I wish to say that the decision was collective between Ai Wah [Lim] Stephen and Moox on certain matters for contingencies."

".... I cannot recall the exact location, but it was either at my house or Seletar Country Club or Brewerkz, Stephen and I were discussing about his commission and I wrote down the workings. I don't recall whether Ai Wah [Lim] was present as Stephen and I had several discussions at my house, Seletar Country Club and Brewerkz. Sometimes Ai Wah would be with us."

Note: Seletar Country Club is a prestigious private members golf club in Singapore. While the Brewerkz is a popular Singapore restaurant/micro-brewery serving American style food.

Doehrman went on to explain:

"This document was the working of the calculation on the breakdown of $3.6 million. As I had mentioned earlier the breakdown of the $3.6 million payment. The breakdown is as follows:

Working Capital US$500,000
Lim Ai Wah US$600,000
PM of PNG US$280,446 being 12.5% of contract $22,435,680
Moox US$280,446 being 12.5% of contract $22,435,680
Li US$750,000*
Contingency US$1,189,108 including Ai Wah's share of 12.5%

Total US$3,600,000.

* Li US$750,000 being 30% of contact of $3.6 million less $500,000 (working capital account) less $600,000 (Ai Wah's share).

3) Documentary Evidence

In addition to the Statements by both Lim and Doehrman the Prosecution also relied on documentary evidence implicating Somare which included:

(a) copy of a Questzone Offshore Ltd cheque dated 16 August 2010 signed by Lim and payable to "Sir Michael Thomas Somare" for the amount of $280,000.

(b) copy of a Questzone Offshore Ltd cheque dated 1 September 2010 signed by Lim and payable addressed to "Somare Sir Michael Thomas" for the amount of $280,000.

(c) copy of a Questzone Offshore Ltd cheque dated 12 November 2010 signed by Lim and payable to "Somare Sir Michael Thomas" for the amount of $244,000

(d) copy of Somare's Singapore Standard Chartered Bank statement dated 9th September 2010 confirming:

(i) the deposit of $280,000 on 17 August 2010 and subsequent cash withdrawal of $280,000 on the same day.

(ii) the deposit of $280,000 on 3rd September 2010 and subsequent cash withdrawal of $125,000 and transfer of $125,000 to his general Singapore currency account on the same day.

(e) copy of Somare's Singapore Standard Chartered Bank statement dated 9th December 2010 confirming the deposit of $244,000 on 16 November 2010 and subsequent cash withdrawal of $220,000.

So is the evidence at is stands sufficient to brings charges against Somare and his son?

Its my view the answer is yes. Based on the evidence and recent Court ruling there is reasonable grounds for the Singapore authorities to charge both Somare and his son.

However the essential issue is whether it is sufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard of proof being beyond reasonable doubt Somare and his son are guilty of the same offences committed by Doehrman and Lim?

This will come down to the credibility and sufficiency of the evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt Somare had 1) knowledge of the conspiracy to defraud and 2) knowingly took part in it.

Credible and sufficient evidence is based on whether is it believable, probable (likely to be true), consistent and corroborated (supported by other evidence) making it sufficient and beyond doubt.

In part 6 we will analysis the evidence which suggests he had knowledge of it. We will discuss the many inconsistencies in both Lim and Doehrman's statements implicating Somare and evidence that raises questions whether it is tainted or planted.

We will also consider whether the evidence is sufficient beyond reasonable doubt. If Somare is in fact innocent then what course of action he may take to prove his innocence, failing that what course of action the Prosecution may take to confirm his guilt.

Lastly, what course of action PNG authorities may take to lay charges against him and whether or not those charges will ultimately fail or succeed.

In parts 7 & 8 we will revisit Susan Merrell's article on the issue, also looking into what happened to the Community College Project, including the K50 million parked in Greg Sheppard's firm trust account and also bring to light some the parties outside the transaction and involved in the project.

Photo: Doehrman and Sheppard meeting with Fr./Dr. Xavier Alphonse and ZTE officials in Singapore in 2012.
Note: There are eight (8) parts to this article.

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????

Part Four:  A discussion on the statements made during the record of interview that Singapore Public Prosecutor relied on to secure Doehrman and Lim's conviction (finding them guilty). This part turns to review their claims directly implicating Grand Chief Somare and his son Michael Somare Jnr 

Part Five: will review the evidence implicating Somare and his son Michael Jnr (Moox), whether is it credible and sufficient to bring criminal charges against them in Singapore. Also whether any criminal charges can be pursued against Somare in PNG following the Singapore Supreme Court ruling.
So to answer two key questions every Papua New Guinean is asking:
1) Is Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare guilty of committing the same criminal offences?
2) If yes, then based on the Singapore Supreme Court ruling can and will he be charged and prosecuted in PNG? 

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