Eight eye witnesses fail to show up

Eight witnesses who were summoned by the Commissioner of Inquiry into the controversial UBS loan, failed to turn up for the two-day public hearing at the APEC Haus in Port Moresby.

The inquiry was scheduled for Tuesday 30th March and Wednesday 31st March, 2021.

Tuesday’s hearing proceeded with the statement of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare; it was read by his lawyer, Sir Arnold Amet.

Other witnesses who failed to turn up include, Sir Julius Chan, Chief Dr. John Momis, Sir John Kaputin, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Sir Charles Lepani, Dr. Clement Waine, Dr. Lawrence Sause and Dr. Solomon Awili.

In his opening remarks, Chief Commissioner and Chairman Sir Salamo Injia said the inquiry seeks to answer questions relating to the 2014 AUD$1.239 billion UBS loan and the AUD$1.681 billion loan obtained by the 2009 government from the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), to fund the PNG LNG project.

 “The government obtained the loan to purchase shares in the PNG LNG project, using the issuance of exchangeable bonds. With regard to the USB loan, the purpose was to purchase a share of 10.01% stake in Oil Search and to meet associated expenses.”

Sir Salamo said both the loans involved the government’s participation in private business ventures and an investor.

Monday’s public hearing is one of three parts which considers the Government’s policies and involvement in private business enterprises since independence.

In her remarks, Commissioner Margret White said PNG suffered from those transactions.

She added that agreements were performed outside the country, and governed by foreign laws.

“Discussions, meetings and negotiations occurred outside PNG,” she said.

The public hearing on Wednesday did not eventuate as planned and has been postponed to April.

Jemimah Sukbat