By CYRIL GARE
Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen fell short to justify why the Ombudsman Commission (OC) did not conduct its own investigation into the allegations labelled against Maprik MP, John Simon.
Instead the OC relied on the information provided in the complaint by Gabriel Kapris lodged with the Commission since Nov 9, 2012.
These were among revelations during the course of the cross-examination by defence lawyer, Greg Sheppard (for John Simon) as the Leadership Tribunal sitting which is investigating into allegations of misappropriation of funds and abuse of office by Maprik MP began its first day of trial on Tue, Nov 19.
Mr Sheppard told the tribunal headed by Justice Nicholas Miviri that the Commission sat on the complaint for some three years or so before it opened the file in Apr, 2016 during when the Commission first wrote to the leader informing him of its intention to refer him to the Public Prosecutor and the consequent processes of natural justice and right to be heard that followed thereafter.
In response, Mr Pagen denied the proposition by Shepard saying that the Commission did carry out its own investigations by sending officers to Maprik however, there were lack of cooperation by witnesses despite issuance of several summons by the Commission.
Sheppard then asked Mr Pagen to show where exactly in the Commission’s Statement of Reasons (Information provided to the Public Prosecutor) were sworn copies (proof) of these summons which Mr Pagen fell short to identify but reiterating his earlier stance that the OC did carry out its own investigations upon complaint by Gabriel Kapris.
Mr Sheppard also told the tribunal that the OC deliberately delayed its investigations because it was awaiting the outcome of the Election Petition which was taken up by Gabriel Kapris against his client between 2012 and 2014, a proposition which Mr Pagen again denied, adding that the OC is allowed by law to conduct investigations either by way of a complaint or at its own discretion and consent.
The defence also argued that the OC had failed to authenticate – from IPA records – that the “John Simon” it is referring to in this court was the same person, prove how basing on the established JDBPC (DDA) systems of budgetary allocation and procurement that the leader had “paid his own companies”.
A total of nine allegations by Gabriel Kapris was laid against the Maprik MP, John Simon through the OC in that the leader had used the office to benefit his own hire car company, construction company, associates, and associate companies during his term in office valued around K1.6 million.
The defence cross-examination of the OC (witness) will continue when the tribunal resumes on Nov 25.