Dr Kombra arrested

Charged with two counts of abuse of office and two counts of misappropriation of K4.4million from the Department of Education and the property of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Detectives from the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate on Thursday arrested and charged Secretary for Education, Dr Uke Kombra with two counts of abuse of office and two counts of misappropriation of K4.4million from the Department of Education and the property of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Dr Uke Kombra is the Secretary for the Department of Education, a position he held from 2016 to 2019.

Prior to 2016 he was the acting Secretary for Education for one year.

According to a statement from Director NFCAD Detective Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru, it is alleged on Feb 11, 2016, a K7.9 million contract to develop, publish, print text books, teachers guide and syllabus and supply of same to elementary and primary school students in PNG was signed between the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the supplier – Treid Pacific (PNG) Limited.

The terms of the contract were that at the signing of the contract, 20 per cent of the contract price would be paid to the contractor and the balance paid after the delivery of the education materials.

However, the terms of the contract were never observed and before the contract were performed, and after the signing of the contract, a total of K4.4 million was paid to the contractor. Mr Uke Kombra as the departmental head approved the payment.

The education materials were never produced nor supplied to the schools despite the contractor receiving the K4.4 million.

Since the contractor received the funding and its failure to supply, Dr Uke Kombra as the departmental head responsible failed to report and cause investigations to be conducted. Consequently, elementary and primary school students throughout PNG did not receive the learning materials.

Police investigation revealed that as the Secretary for Education Department Dr Uke Kombra failed to cause investigation to be conducted to established as to what has happened since he approved for the full payment to the contractor to be made.

He was negligent and the approval for payments he made were beyond and in breach of the contractual agreement which was as per the Public Finance Management Act, hence, abused his office to enrich the contractor.

The contractor benefited from the very conduct of Dr Uke Kombra which allowed the contractor to have access to the funds, thus misappropriation of public funds.

Mr Damaru said Dr Uke Kombra was invited to the National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate office in Konedobu, where he was interviewed. After the arrest procedure was completed, he was taken to Boroko Police Station and placed in the cells.

Investigation is continuing with more arrests expected to be made soon.

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