Chinese mafia and corrupt police cripple PNG – The Age, 2005
This is what Mark Forbes wrote in The Age back in February 2005. There is nothing to suggest anything has gotten better since then (and is Chief Superintendent Sam Bonner still at work?)….
Chinese mafia groups have infiltrated and corrupted the highest levels of Papua New Guinea’s police force, crippling the struggling nation’s attempts to tackle its law-and-order crisis and posing a potential national security threat to Australia.
An Age investigation has uncovered alleged links between 16 of PNG’s most senior police and Asian criminals implicated in people-smuggling, money-laundering, prostitution, illegal gambling, fraud and theft. Australian authorities fear that PNG’s police are so compromised that the country could be used as a staging post to traffic people into Australia.
With a $1.1 billion Howard Government program to restore law and order in PNG under way – more than 100 Australian police are patrolling trouble spots – Australian intelligence has nominated Asian gangs as the biggest threat to stability.
Details of a secret PNG police investigation, Corruption and Illegal Activities Within the Police Force, have been obtained by The Age. The report names 15 senior officers, from inspectors to commissioners, allegedly involved with Asian crime figures.
PNG Police Minister Bire Kimisopa refused to discuss the report’s details but acknowledged that his country faced an organised crime crisis that implicated senior police. “It goes right to the top,” he said.
“Chinese mafia have bought off officials throughout the system . . . they are operating illegal businesses, they are siphoning money out, corrupting Government officials, colluding with police and making attempts to kill officials as well.”
The commander of the Australian police in PNG, Barry Turner, backed the assessment. “There is a significant, growing problem with Asian organised crime entities in Port Moresby and PNG,” he said.
He said Australian officers planned a crackdown on the gangs, in concert with PNG police. “We are working together to try and address these issues, we have bolstered the transnational crime team and will be putting extra staff into internal affairs.”
Australian officials fear the problem could affect Australia. The head of the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Professor Hugh White, said organised crime in PNG could be a “conduit into Australia for a range of activities, including people-smuggling and drug-trafficking”.
The gangs have established themselves in the past five years, taking advantage of corruption and lax law enforcement. They have begun recruiting Port Moresby’s notorious raskol gangs – heavily armed, disaffected young men – to commit armed robberies, thefts and assaults, senior police sources confirmed.
The police report calls for urgent investigations into 55 allegations of corruption or misconduct, in the interests of the police concerned and to protect the integrity of the force.
Sources have also identified a corrupt senior policeman, not included in the report, who has intervened to disrupt investigations into organised crime figures twice this year.
The report alleges that one of PNG’s most senior officers received $10,000 from an Asian business figure and has personally issued firearms licences in breach of a moratorium. The report says that the force’s legal officer, Chief Superintendent Sam Bonner, attempted to pervert the course of justice by interfering with an investigation into illegal gambling last year.
Mr Bonner tried to halt a raid on a venue housing pokie-like “horse-racing machines” owned by alleged crime figure Albert Khoo. The report claims he has at least four police on his payroll.
The gangs are known to threaten and intimidate police and others. National Gaming Board chairman Nat Koleala told The Age that gangs had placed a $700,000 contract on his head for speaking out against illegal gaming. After several bomb threats, a hand grenade was thrown at the house of his registrar.
A Gaming Board investigation into three companies running illegal venues had uncovered relatives and wives of senior policemen on the books, he said.