Polye: Constitution breached in UBS loan acquisition

Opposition Leader, Don Polye today asked the Supreme Court through his lawyer to hear an application he filed under section 18(1) of the Constitution to enquire into the K3b UBS loan acquisition.

This application was moved by Polye’s lawyer, Loani Henao before a three-man Supreme Court bench, asking the court to allow a Constitutional application to be heard saying he has standing or rights as an MP and citizen to bring such applications.

Henao made submissions before the court today saying Polye has sufficient interest in bringing such applications which raises significant constitutional issues.

He asked the court to allow his case to go forward and have the full court enquire into section 209 of the Constitution saying NEC breached the constitution when acquiring the UBS loan by not seeking the approval of Parliament.

The application substantively, is a request to the court to enquire into section 209 of the Constitution on whether Parliament approval was needed by the NEC prior to the K3 billion UBS loan being acquired by the Government in 2014.

He said the people of the country contribute unconstitutionally to the repayment of the loan which makes it all the more reason why the application should proceed to the next stage and the Supreme Court must properly consider the constitutional issues being raised.

Henao told the court that on March 6, 2014 submissions were made to NEC by the Prime Minister for the acquisition of the loan which was approved the same day. On March 9, Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele through a memo dated March 6, requested for Polye to sign instruments as the Treasurer which he refused to.

Henao said his client, despite being a member of the NEC refused to sign the instruments as the Treasurer at that time because proper processes were not complied with. Polye’s refusal to sign resulted in his sacking as Treasurer.

He said section 209 of the Constitution was breached by the NEC when they failed to bring it to Parliament and get its approval before the State entered into a financial agreement with the Union Bank of Switzerland for the purpose of obtaining 10.1percent shares in Oil Search.

The Prime Minister’s lawyer, Emmanuel Asigau told the court Polye should not be granted standing to bring such application because following his removal as Treasurer in 2014, he filed a proceeding challenging his removal.

He said the loan was obtained in March 2014 and Polye waited two years to raise the issue now in 2016, adding, he didn’t follow through the first case he filed which was dismissed.

Asigau said the affidavit of Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele filed before the court states the loan has been full repaid as of December 2014 and the state no longer holds a direct interest in Oil Search.

“It’s now a dead issue and there is no evidence before the court if the loan is being repaid by a third party.

“If the loan is no longer there, there is no longer a breach of section 209 (of the constitution) and therefore there is nothing left for the court to consider. Polye has not provided any evidence that loan has not been repaid,” Asigau said.

He said the case does not involve any transfer of loan to a third party and there will be no effect of Polye’s application as it does not seek to nullify any transfer of loan but only how the loan was obtained.

A decision on the application is expected next week.


Sally Pokiton