ExxonMobil evading tax, Opposition claims

​Opposition leader, Patrick Pruaitch, has claimed that there is more than circumstantial evidence that ExxonMobil is avoiding or evading company taxes due from its 33.2% stake in the PNG LNG Project.

According to a statement issued by Mr Pruaitch, he said there is no plausible reason why ExxonMobil, as the largest equity holder in the US$20 billion venture, has never been the single largest company tax payer since LNG exports commenced in 2014.

The Opposition leader stressed that as an unincorporated joint venture, all five joint venture partners, including Kumul Petroleum, adopt identical accounting standards so the share of profits and taxable income of each partner is broadly comparable and should reflect their individual equity holdings.

He said official data from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has shown that Oil Search (29% equity) paid company tax totalling K363 million from 2014 to 2016 inclusive, while ExxonMobil only paid K212.5 million or K150 million less than Oil Search.

However, ExxonMobil has brushed aside such speculation and said the company had paid taxes in compliance with all applicable laws of PNG.  

ExxonMobil spokesperson told this newsroom that they are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity in their business activities and are always committed in paying its taxes.

He added that ExxonMobil PNG has been instrumental in driving economic growth in PNG by producing significant, lasting benefits, which include development levies, taxes, royalties, equity payments and support to local business, as well as thousands of jobs for local citizens and a strong commitment to social progress.

He further reiterated that ExxonMobil is a lead member of efforts such as the PNG Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (PNG EITI).

“We strongly support Papua New Guinea’s efforts to achieve EITI candidacy, and have been – along with other industry and civil society stakeholders – part of the process alongside the PNG government.” 

Freddy Mou