PNG Immigration under investigation

Pacific refugee camp

Papua New Guinea’s government has engaged prominent accounting firm KPMG to investigate the PNG Humanitarian Programme and its links to an alleged Chinese drug dealer.

The investigation will also cover the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority handling of the Australian funded PNG Humanitarian Programme (PHP) and the connections with PNG businesses of the Chinese woman, who was arrested in Brisbane on allegations of transshipment of dangerous drugs from PNG to Australia last year.

Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso, who also oversees the Immigrations Department, said: “KPMG, a senior accounting firm, is conducting a forensic audit into the programme.

“I’m currently having an investigation into Immigration, especially the refugee funding from Australia. The PHP is being looked at by an investigation team.”

The Chinese woman, a PNG citizen, was arrested in Brisbane, Australia, over the March 2023 drug smuggling operations.

Australian Federal Police and PNG Police, in a joint operation, monitored a black flight which originated in Australia, flew to Bulolo in Morobe Province, PNG, before returning to Queensland, Australia, with duffle bags full of K35 million (US$9.36 million) worth of amphetamines.

The Chinese woman is said to have links to a former PNG Deputy Prime Minister and the ICA through her companies.

The IPA company registry in Port Moresby uncovered the changing of PHP name to ABC Enterprise Limited.

Further checks revealed 15 companies listed under 34 addresses by the woman.

Last year, DPM Rosso released a statement in which he made it clear that he had received documents from a whistleblower on 10 October 2023.

“The serious allegations by the whistleblower, separate complaints raised by other parties, the local and international media coverage on it, and the undertaking by the Australian government to investigate the programme, requires our government to carry out our own audit into the arrangement,” Rosso said.

Last year, Ogy Simic, director of Advocacy at the ASRC said: “The Australian government must front up to its duty of care for the dozens of refugees it forced to Papua New Guinea over a decade ago.

“What we’ve seen unfold in PNG is a humanitarian crisis, with those trapped facing evictions, threats and cuts to services triggered by the PNG government’s failure to pay PNG accommodation and service providers over an extended period,” a concerned Simic said.

“The Australian government cannot leave these people in uncertainty and without safety for any longer.

It must front up to its responsibility, clearly explain its plans for the remaining refugees, and end this decade of cruelty now,” Simic said.