Taskforce Sweep's offices in Port Moresby ransacked | Pacific Beat

Taskforce Sweep's offices in Port Moresby ransacked

Taskforce Sweep's offices in Port Moresby ransacked

Updated 4 February 2013, 18:23 AEST

It looks like Papua New Guinea's anti-corruption taskforce has struck a raw nerve with its work.

Thieves ransacked one of Taskforce Sweep's offices in Port Moresby last night, stealing computers and possibly files detailing its investigations.

But the head of the taskforce says if the break-in was meant to deter him, it hasn't worked.

PNG correspondent Liam Fox reports.

Presenter: Liam Fox

Speaker:The chairman of Taskforce Sweep Sam Koim

FOX: As the chairman of Taskforce Sweep, Sam Koim, has one of the toughest jobs in Papua New Guinea. It got even tougher overnight.

KOIM: They came in the night and they ransacked most everything. They took computers, they took lap tops, they took some equipment, files.

FOX: Mr. Koim says in the early hours of this morning, around 20 men jumped over the high fence surrounding the building that houses the Department of Justice in Port Moresby. They tied up three security guards, prized open the heavy steel gate that's supposed to protect the buildings entrance, then smashed through a wooden door into the Taskforce's administration office.

KOIM: It appears that it has been a premeditated sort of action, because they came, they took they're time and they didn't go elsewhere. There are 11 floors in this building, but they aimed at this office only.

FOX: The office has been trashed, paper is strewn everywhere, desk drawers have been pulled out and their contents dumped onto the ground.

This morning, police forensic officers were dusting for fingerprints on two large filing cabinets, one of which had clearly been opened.

The office contains files on Taskforce Sweep investigations. More detailed files on active investigations are kept with the Police Fraud Squad.

Staff are still trying to work out what exactly has been stolen.

Mr. Koim says all files are electronically backed up, so even if some have been stolen, copies do exist.

But he's not happy with the security company hired to guard the building, Security Plus.

KOIM: How can these three security officers be at the same place at one location and then easily be accessed by these thugs or wherever they came and the main security firm did not have any contact with these people and that's what makes me suspicious. Whether they were actually doing their work.

FOX: Mr. Koim says he's not surprised by the break-in, given the work the Taskforce has been doing.

Originally set up in 2011, to investigate corruption within the national planning department, it's remit was soon extended to all areas of government.

In a report last year, Mr. Koim said the Taskforce had uncovered a corrupt, self-serving mobocracy had come to dominate the machinery of government.

It's investigations have led to the arrest of dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

The most high profile scalp, is the former planning minister, Paul Tiensten whose facing charges over his approval of two multi-million dollar grants, one of which was to his own company.

Mr. Koim says if the aim of the break-in was to scare off him and his officers, it failed.

KOIM: Yeah, this is not going to deter us, this is not going to discourage us. No one will intimidate us.

FOX: He also has a direct message for the thieves themselves.

KOIM: They must know that we are doing this to alleviate the inequality that is existing in this country and we are trying to make sure that everybody has their fair share of the wealth of this country and those thugs whoever they have been used. We are doing something to help them.

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