Museum, buyers referred for sale of Swamp Ghost
The National [September 14, 2006 ]
By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE Public Accounts Committee yesterday recommended that the Board of Trusties and management of the National Museum and Art Gallery be referred to police for their dealings in the sale of the Swamp Ghost and other World War II relics and artefacts. Also referred to police for investigations are the former museum director and the foreign buyers of the Swamp Ghost, Fred Hagen and Robert Greinert.
The PAC also referred the offices of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General to the Ombudsman Commission for investigations for their failure to comply with the committee’s instructions and their failure to cooperate with the PAC inquiry into the sale, salvage and export of the Swamp Ghost.
The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are also to explain to the minister for Justice why they failed to comply with the PAC instructions to preserve the Swamp Ghost pending the completion of the committee inquiry.
Acting PAC chairman Malcolm Kela-Smith said yesterday that all existing MOA for the sale, export, removal or salvaging of war surplus materials should be immediately suspended.
“We are concerned with the recalcitrant attitude of the management of the national museum. Trustees directives are ignored, illegal transactions are carried on and it appears to us that the museum serves the interests of foreign salvors of dubious background and intentions over and above their charter - which is to protect the cultural heritage of this nation."
“We can properly conclude that this institution is the worst and most incompetent of any that has been before us. To compound the illegality that we have detected, the management has acted in a devious and squalid manner before this committee. There should be no more sale, salvage, removal or export of war surplus material until the Government has had the opportunity to establish a firm policy and to amend the legislation as required. We ask the Board of Trustees to note this finding,” Mr Kela-Smith said.
The Aero Archeology and Robert Greinert and Alfred Hagen, Bruno Carnovale, Ian Whitney, 75th Squadron and Historical Aircraft Restoration Society have also been referred to the PNG police and the Australian federal police and or relevant state police forces for investigations of any and all sales by them of PNG’s war surplus materials with a “view to establishing whether there has been any breach of the criminal law in that sale or conversion of state property”.
The offices of the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General have also been referred to the PNG Law Society for failure to comply with instructions given by the PAC to protect and preserve the “unique” and “priceless” Swamp Ghost pending completion of the committee’s inquiry.