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16 January 2014

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From the Post Courier 16.1.2014
FORMER Finance Secretary Steven Gibson has been arrested by the Task Force Sweep team yesterday over fraud charges.

He was charged with conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office and misappropriation for his part in paying Paul Paraka Lawyers K80 million as legal fees which were allegedly dubious and illegal.

Mr Gibson, 54, from Nihon village in Lorengau District, Manus, was questioned at the National Fraud and Anti-corruption headquarters at Konedobu yesterday morning before he was taken to Boroko police cells for lockup.

According to a statement from the Task Force Sweep team, Mr Gibson allegedly authorised the payment to Paul Paraka Lawyers under suspicious circumstances when he was the Finance Secretary from 2011 to 2013.

On January 30, 2012, Mr Gibson made notations directing his first assistant secretary, stating for special warrant authority to pay for the legal services rendered and signed off.

On the same day, it was alleged that Mr Gibson wrote to former Treasury Secretary Simon Tosali requesting urgent release of special warrants for court orders.

In his letter, Mr Gibson stated that he was directed by the Prime Minister by a letter dated January 24, 2012 to settle Paul Paraka Lawyers’ outstanding bill of K35 million as a matter of urgency.

He stated that since it was a matter of urgency, at least a warrant of K30 million must be released right away to facilitate the payment within the same week.

On February 13, 2012, Mr Gibson wrote a letter to the Secretary for Department of Justice and Attorney-General Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, seeking legal clearance to settle some outstanding court judgments.

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