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Adviser’s arrest spells trouble all round

Carolyn Blacklock - senior woman adviser engaged on an Australian government funded program finds herself in hot water


PORT MORESBY – Carolyn Blacklock, former acting managing director of PNG Power, has been arrested by a police criminal investigation team and charged with conspiracy, forgery, false pretence and misappropriation.

The forensic team had been established by police commissioner David Manning to investigate high level financial crimes.

Ms Blacklock, 48, from Mareeba in Queensland, is alleged to have conspired with another person to forge an employment contract and defraud PNG Power of K1.7 million between August 2018 and August 2019.

Police say that in August 2017, Ms Blacklock was employed by global infrastructure consultants Cardno PNG as an advisor to the Department of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council (NEC).

Cardno PNG manages the Economic and Social Infrastructure Program, under which Ms Blacklock was employed, which is a development assistance program supported by Australian government aid.

In January 2018, when Peter O’Neill was prime minister, the NEC appointed her to temporarily head up PNG Power, in which the sole shareholder is the government-owned Kumul Holdings, while the managing director’s job was advertised.

The police allege that Ms Blacklock and PNG Power chairman, Peter Nupiri, conspired to fabricate a contract of employment to appoint Ms Blacklock as acting managing director while she was still employed by Cardno PNG.

They allege that, relying on the fraudulent contract, between August 2018 and August 2019 Ms Blacklock directed PNG Power finance staff to pay her more than K1.7 million even though she was still receiving a salary from Cardno PNG.

On Monday, Ms Blacklock was arrested at Harbour City, Konedobu, and interviewed by the National Capital District Fraud Squad.

After the interview, police said they were satisfied there was sufficient evidence to charge her under the Criminal Code.

Ms Blacklock's arrest will have triggered considerable concerns within her employer, Cardno PNG, and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department, to which Cardno PNG is a major managing contractor within the Australian development aid program.

Cardno’s website says the Economic and Social Infrastructure Program, under which Ms Blacklock worked, is “a development assistance program supported by the Australian Government (DFAT) and implemented by Cardno.”

It is believed that Cardno PNG has previously paid salaries for key positions in the PNG government and its entities.

Dr David Kavanamur
Dr David Kavanamur, like Ms Blacklock employed by a Cardno project funded by Australian aid

More recently Cardno deployed Dr David Kavanamur as economic and infrastructure advisor to prime minister James Marape.

Dr Kavanamur’s Linked In account refers to him as a full-time strategic advisor at Cardno PNG.

Professor Albert Schram, former vice-chancellor of the PNG’s University of Technology, himself arrested in a high level entanglement, feels some sympathy for Ms Blacklock

“Oh no, there we go again,” Prof Schram stated on Twitter.

“A reputable foreign professional, who never had any run in with the law or police, is suddenly charged by Port Moresby cops-for-hire, usually paid by dishonest employees looking for payback.”

His advice was, “Expats: avoid PNG at any cost.”

Whether Ms Blacklock’s case has been trumped up, as was Prof Schram’s, remains to be seen.

But having third party advisers ultimately funded by Australian development aid occupying senior advisory positions at the heart of PNG political decision-making will always present a risky relationship.

Additional sources: Sunday Bulletin; Cardno website; Linked In


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Bryan Kramer

Hi Keith

Thank you for posting my comment and I note your claim I've made a number of factual errors however, it appears you fell short of actually pointing them out.

Fact: Albert Schram was charged in 2018 for false pretence for allegedly falsifying academic credentials when applying for the Vice Chancellor posting with University of Technology.

Fact: He applied to the National Court to vary his bail conditions to allow him to travel to Italy to purportedly obtain his original document and return to prove his innocence

Fact He never returned.

Fact in dispute - it was a ruse to flee the country to avoid prosecution and avoid the process to clear his name.
Evidence to support this fact is the moment he left PNG and arrived in Singapore he published an lengthy article announcing he had left the country and now felt safe to tell his side of the story.

"Now that I have safely left Papua New Guinea, I feel free to write about what happened and was not reported in the national media." - source PNG Attitude

I take note of a purported certified copy of Mr Schram's PHD. In 2018 I was also troubled by why police would be wasting their time arresting a foreign national over his credentials. I received a response from then Pro Chancellor Sam Koim who explained Schurm had claimed to have a number of academic credentials in his application for the Vice Chancellor position when its alleged he didn't So it may not be an issue that Mr. Schrum does not have a PHD but whether he lied about having other credentials, when he may not have.

I note that you published Schram's account of the purported comments by National Court Judge when granting him permission to leave however there doesn't seem to be any such judgement published on paclii.

Schrum would have filed an sworn affidavit that he would return to PNG - this appears to be false testimony and perjury, breaching a court order and bail conditions are criminal offences.

I take issue with your statement that "Given the circumstances of his arrest and detention, in which justice took a back seat, there was little surprise that Dr Schram chose not to return to PNG to face trial."

Justice is dispensed by the Courts not Police - Mr Schram appears to have only taken issue with his arrest by Police and nothing about being denied justice or injustice by our justice system.

In November 2014 11 Police officers picked me up at Ela Beach Restaurant and charged me with attempted murder of then Police Minister who was my political opponent. I was refused bail by Police so I applied and was granted bail by the District Court hower the Station Commander refused to release me. It was only after my lawyer threatened him with contempt of court I was released at 12am.

The charges were clearly politically motivated in an effort to silence me from exposing corruption. At any point I could have fled the country and if I was guilty it would have probably be advisable to do so, but I wasn't and had no intention of fleeing anywhere but allow the process clear my name in a court of law. The charges were later dismissed by the District Court for lack of evidence.

Mr Schram only had to allow the process to clear his name unfortunately he instead opted to commit further crimes to flee the country.

I've read the articles you provided however none of them actually provided any real compelling evidence to justify his actions of breaking the law by fleeing PNG or his innocence of the charges

If he claims the charges were malicious prosecution he could have filed National Court proceedings staying the charges in the District Court. The National Court would have considered the evidence that the purportedly submitted to Police and if it had found in his favour would have issued a permanent injunction against Police and the matter would have ended there. However, the National Court will only grant a permanent injunction if a person has compelling evidence to sustain malicious prosecution. He instead opted to mislead the National Court in an effort flee PNG.

Like I said innocent people don't typically lie run or hide when it comes to proving their innocence. Being charged for false pretence is hardly a hangable offence and reason to flee.

You stated that as Justice Minister, given the criticism of Dr Schram's prosecution from eminent people around the globe, you would urge me to familiarise myself with the corruption that underpinned PNG's mistreatment of an innocent man. "(Some of the hundreds of media stories on this matter are listed below.)"

My response:
I'm less interested in the criticism of eminent people around the globe or hundreds of media stories and prefer to focus on the facts and the evidence offered to sustain them.

You stated in an article - "In a shock development in Papua New Guinea’s Schram case, the former vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology has said he will not return to Papua New Guinea “until major changes occur in the country”.

Was it really a shock that a day after leaving he announces the will not return? - I believe this was always his plan.

Bryan Kramer MP

I've taken note of Mr Albert Schram's comments, he is correct in his opening sentence that he has no special knowledge about this case, however he has gone on to express a view on an issue he clearly knows nothing about.

If my memory serves me correctly, Mr Schram was arrested in 2018 and charged for false pretence for allegedly falsifying PhD qualifications when applying for the position of the Vice Chancellor of University of Technology in Lae.

It was reported that he could not produce an original certificate and applied to the National Court to be allowed to leave PNG to obtain it from an Italian court.

The National Court, believing his request to be genuine and in good faith, allowed him to leave. However it seems Mr Schram lied to the court in a ruse to flee the country.

In 2019 the District Court was forced to dismiss the charges after Mr Schram failed to return.

If there is one thing I know about innocent people is that they never lie and flee to avoid the opportunity to clear their name or prove their innocence.

It's not like there would have been any real difficulty in proving one's innocence of the charge of falsifying official documents - one just needs to simply produce them unless of course it never existed.

Perhaps Mr Schram would publish an article why he absconded bail and provide a certified copy of the document was alleged to have falsified

Bryan, I can leave it to Dr Schram to defend himself, and feel sure he will, but I believe you have made a number of serious factual errors in your comment relating to his PhD qualifications (they are real) and the circumstances of his arrest, detention and eventual flight from PNG.

Given the circumstances of his arrest and detention, in which justice took a back seat, there was little surprise that Dr Schram chose not to return to PNG to face trial. As Justice Minister, given the criticism of Dr Schram's prosecution from eminent people around the globe, I would urge you to familiarise yourself with the corruption that underpinned PNG's mistreatment of an innocent man. (Some of the hundreds of media stories on this matter are listed below.)

In the case of Ms Blacklock, it was probably unwise of Dr Schram to comment as he did and those remarks have obviously annoyed you. I suspect he was leaning heavily on his own unfortunate experience in assessing her situation, for which so far as I know evidence has yet to be adduced - KJ

Backlash to Schram dismissal grows as documents are published

Court to decide whether Schram case will be public or private

Schram Tells: My wrongful dismissal and malicious prosecution:

National Court mulls Albert Schram’s application to leave PNG

Albert Schram allowed to temporarily leave to get PhD

Dr Schram absconds on bail – claims PNG prosecution was political
Stephen Howes: The outrageous and unfounded arrest of Dr Albert Schram

Stanley Pundiye: I make a plea for an innocent man

Albert Schram

Thanks for the quote! I have no special knowledge about this case, nor do I know Mrs Blacklock well (we met a few times) but at first sight it seems too clumsy for criminal intent.

The intensity of infighting at PNG Power in the past, of which Mrs Blacklock was also a victim, is well known, and has widely been covered in the press.

In my tweet, I am just connecting the dots: unbelievable or easily refutable allegations, intense infighting in a public agency, and a professional who depends on a salary.

Unlike some PNG politicians who mysteriously are financially independent, during her career in Australia and PNG Mrs Blacklock has been trying to make an honest living, and has no interest in ruining her reputation and become unemployable.

Draw your own conclusions, and let's see if the case will eventually be thrown out, as was mine, as reported here:

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