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Woman charged over huge Daru heist

David Manning
David Manning (centre) took personal control of the investigation into the huge misappropriation


NOOSA – Papua New Guinea’s police commissioner David Manning has disclosed that a woman has been arrested after the discovery of a K268 million theft in Western Province.

The defendant, Edna Oai, 45, was flown to Port Moresby from Daru last Monday and formally charged with 15 counts of false pretence, conspiracy and misappropriation.

Ms Oai was refused bail due to the seriousness of the offences. It is alleged that the money was misappropriated by the defendant as well as the secretary and other directors of Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation.

The misappropriated funds came from the Western Province People’s Dividends Trust Account and were intended to fund and implement community development projects.

The police investigation established that the misappropriated funds were paid to a law firm, a company owned by the company secretary and to directors between August 2018 and early 2020. The investigation began in October last year.

The trust account was established in the interests of 147,000 people in 158 villages in the South Fly District.

The investigation found that the people of this region had constantly complained that no development project had ever been funded and implemented using the trust funds.


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Martin Sema

Dear Commissioner Manning - I am one of the pure Western Province-born and come from South Fly District.

Please, the only very words I could render to say for these thieves is to command all them as mentioned 5-10 years in jail.

They cannot misuse the equity of people who are very badly affected by the mine. This money all belongs to the villages concerned within the affected areas.

Again, I say, put all mentioned to 5-10 years in jail. Thank you, on behalf of my families in the villages.

Arthur Williams

The prime minister was reported in The National on 2 December 2020:

PM says Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) for the people of Western Report to be tabled in Parliament.

''PRIME Minister James Marape told Parliament yesterday that the audit report on the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) for the people of Western would be tabled....

"North Fly James Donald had asked about the audit report because he claimed that K53 million was being transacted to two accounts."

Wondered Harry if Covid hijacked the February publication as can't recall reading it.

Simon Davidson

While I personally dont condone the conspiracry to steal, I am deeply concerned with lackadaisical attitude of those in authority to investigate and prosecute white collar criminals embezzling huge sums in PNG. Are they two laws in the country?

Harry Topham

Got that one Arthur, but the situation remains the same. Who are the trustees of this fund and what are the memoranda of understanding that controls the disbursement of funds from this account?

Here's more information, Harry - KJ

The theft of K268 million occurred from Western Province People’s Dividends Trust Account also known as the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) Trust Funds. It has been alleged that the money was misappropriated by the defendant Oai and the secretary and directors of Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation Limited (OTFRDF Ltd).

The misappropriated CMCA Trust funds were intended to fund and implement development projects for CMCA Communities in Western Province. The use and management of CMCA Trust Funds are guided by the Trust Instrument underpinning the CMCA Trust Account and are not to be used for any other purpose.

The CMCA Trust Account was initially under the custody of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea through its nominee, Board of Trustees. The State’s Board was replaced by representatives of OTFRDF Ltd: Chairman - Steven Bagari, Chief Executive Officer - Samson Jubi, and Directors Abel Darugo and Edna Oai as new trustee signatories for CMCA Trust Account in August 2018.

The four signatories of OTFRDF Ltd purported to represent the interest of the 147,000 plus people originating from 158 villages within CMCA Corridor in Western Province, accessed the CMCA Trust.

Arthur Williams

Harry, this allegedly embezzled fund is not the one that is safe in Singapore away from grubby hands. Hope that continues to be the case.

5 May 2020 - Singapore Court dismisses Govt’s appeal; finds for PNG Sustainable Development Programme Ltd (PNGSDP) 6 year court case – The National

THE Singapore Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme Ltd (PNGSDP) by dismissing the State of Papua New Guinea’s appeal against the High Court judgment which was handed down in April 2019, when it ruled that the PNG Government had “failed entirely” in its claim over PNGSDP.

PNGSDP announced this yesterday, confirming that it (PNGSDP), a company, limited by guarantee, was independent and not subject to oversight or control by the PNG Government.

Harry Topham

Now wait a minute, was not this issue raised when Peter O’Neill was PM and he tried to get access to this trust fund which from all accounts was domiciled in Singapore?

At the court hearing the government request for control of these funds held in this trust was denied.

It was reported at the time that the reason for having this trust fund set up in Singapore was to prevent possible fraud.

If the correct investigation is carried out then it would appear that the designated trustees of this fund might stand accused of conspiracy also.

If this is the case the lady concerned might just have been acting as the facilitator for other crooks of the alleged fraud.

Alex Harris

Great news. But why is the woman the only one arrested? Did I miss something?

With the RPNGC laying a conspiracy charge (amongst others) and still investigating co-conspirators, the arrest of Ms Oai would seem to be just the first cab off the rank - KJ

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