| PNG Bulletin Online
PORT MORESBY - Not all Papua New Guineans are corrupt and PNG is not a corruption riddled country as portrayed by the international media, says William Duma.
State Enterprises Minister Duma made the remarks after the Federal Court of Australia sitting in Sydney last week entered a defamation judgement in favour of him against the Australian Financial Review.
“This is the first time for a Papua New Guinean to take a major Australian newspaper to court for defamation and false allegations,” Mr Duma said.
Mr Duma commenced defamation proceedings in May last year after articles were published in the newspaper relating to a residential property in Brisbane owned by an Australian merchant banker Darrell Seeto.
The articles, ‘Brisbane house link to Horizon PNG probe’ and ‘Brisbane house linked to PNG probe’, alleged that Seeto conspired with Duma to launder money by purchasing a $1.5 million (K3.8 million) house in Brisbane from the proceeds of a bribe.
It was also alleged that Westpac Banking Corporation, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Macquarie Banking Group lodged Suspicious Matter Reports with Austrac in connection with banking transactions.
Despite publishing the articles. the newspaper and journalists Angus Grigg and Jemima Whyte failed to produce any evidence establishing that the Brisbane house owned by Seeto was purchased from proceeds of money laundering.
The newspaper also failed to produce evidence of Suspicious Matter Reports against Seeto and Duma.
The Federal Court ordered judgement in favour of Duma for an undisclosed sum in compensation and also ordered the newspaper to pay Duma’s costs of $265,901 (K678,400).