OC asks to add more materials for reference

Lawyers for the Ombudsman Commission, in a Supreme Court reference in relation to the K3 billion UBS loan that was referred for interpretation early last year, moved a preliminary application in court today.

The application was moved by Ombudsman Commission Lawyer Vergil Narokobi, which resulted in the court deferring the hearing of the actual reference to a later date.

The application asked the five-man Supreme Court bench to allow the Ombudsman Commission to include additional materials or facts into the reference book, to assist the court in its deliberation.

Filed on Oct 26 this year, the application asked the court to add three sets of facts containing materials which the Ombudsman Commission says is necessary for the full court to have.

The materials contain the process the Ombudsman Commission follows when someone becomes the subject of an investigation, the terms of enquiry and persons whom the Ombudsman gives notice to prior to commencement of investigations or notice under section 17(1)of the Organic law.

A total of 11 questions were referred to the Supreme Court by late Justice Catherine Davani on Jan 28, 2015, over certain constitutional questions surrounding the alleged improper borrowing of K3 billion from the Union Bank of Switzerland AG by the Government.

Narokobi said those additional materials they wish to include in the reference would assist determine six of the 11 questions.

Lawyers representing Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Attorney-General Ano Pala opposed the application, saying it is the function of the referral judge or the National Court to determine the disputed facts in references before it comes to the Supreme Court bench for deliberation.

They asked the court to dismiss the application.

A ruling on the application will be made this Wednesday.

Parties in the case are the Ombudsman Commission, former Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua and former Acting Chief Ombudsman Phoebe Sangetari, Prime Minister O'Neill and the Attorney-General.

Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justices David Cannings, Panuel Mogish, Terrence Higgins and Stephen Kassman, sat on the five-man bench today.

Sally Pokiton