Mr Jacob Yafai, 42 of Karapia village in Yangoru, East Sepik Province was arrested and charged this afternoon by members of Task-Force Sweep for facilitating numerous illegal payments made to Paraka Lawyers. This is the second arrest concerning alleged illegal payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers by Department of Finance.
Mr Yafai was subject of a numerous controversies in the past and was previously charged by Police for fraud that he facilitated during his employment at Finance Department in July 2006. He was then suspended. However, Mr Yafai’s previous case was somehow struck out on 12 October 2006 followed by his subsequent reinstatement into the Finance Department. He continued to rise in ranks to FAS Accounting Frameworks and Standards Division until last year, when he was elevated to the position of Deputy Secretary -Operations, only to find him with fresh controversy surrounding the payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
In this case, it is alleged that Mr Yafai facilitated four separate transactions adding up to more than K41.8million to Paul Paraka Lawyers. In all of these payments, Mr Yafai approved as Section 31/Chief Financial Officer when he was just a caretaker Secretary in the absence of Mr Gibson who was the incumbent secretary. In one such instance, an amount of K8million was paid out of a non-cash (reserve) account. It is alleged that only Secretaries or Acting Secretaries have the substantial powers under the Public Finance Management Act to approve such payments, not those who temporarily fill in the shoes on caretaker basis.
Investigations by Task-Force Sweep reveal that officers at Finance Department continued to pay Paul Paraka Lawyers since March 2007 in total defiance of two Supreme Court Stay Orders preventing any payment to that law firm. They did so by paying monies into eight (8) different law firms and a nominee company of Mr Paraka. Department of Finance even paid service providers of Paraka Lawyers directly on account of Paraka Lawyers. From the evidence available to Task-Force Sweep, the total amount paid since March 2007 has gone up to almost K300million. That amount excludes payments made to this law firm during the tenure of their brief out and prior to the Supreme Court stay orders.
Many more heads will roll in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Mr Paul Paraka has gone into hiding. He was invited by the Police Fraud Squad to come for an interview since more than a week ago but did not turn up. Anybody has information to his whereabouts; please report to the National Fraud Squad.
Mr Yafai was charged with multiple counts of abuse of office, official corruption, misappropriation and conspiracy to defraud pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Code Act. He was locked up at the Boroko Police cells awaiting bail.
“As a matter of law, he is innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.” Chairman of Task-Force Sweep, Mr Sam Koim said in a statement.