UBS inquiry seeks more funding, extension

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the process and procedures of the PNG Government obtaining the Union Bank of Switzerland loan and related transactions is seeking an extension of a further three months to conduct the inquiry.

The CoI first mention was on September 2nd, where it was announced that further administrative arrangements to secure the resources required including technical experts for the enquiry to continue and be completed by September 17th.

Today Chairman of the UBS CoI and former Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia informed the public they are unable to sit today because only a portion of those administrative measures have been addressed.

“The Commission is in the process of addressing a number of matters, including statutory requirements in respect of the non-citizen component of the commission’s staff,” he said.

The commissioners have sought an extension of time, additional funding and technical experts for the inquiry. A decision from the government on those requests is pending.

Chairman of the UBS CoI said an extension of time from three months to six months and an increase budget sought “an increases by a significant amount” which Sir Salamo said he will not disclose.

This budget request is in addition to the initial K4 million allocated and announced by Prime Minister James Marape on August 8th.

Chairman of the CoI said at that time, the non-citizen component of staff was not factored into the budget and that non-citizen staff expenditure led to that “significant increase” of the additional funding being sought.

The Commission has set Thursday 17 October at 9:30am for its open public hearing, during which the commission may, among other things, consider and issue summons to witnesses. However, this is a tentative fixture as it depends on the requisite administrative arrangements being completed in time.

The Independent Commission of Inquiry was established to enquire and report into the PNG LNG Project, the UBS loan, purchase of Oil Search shares and sale of Oil Search shares.

The Chairman is being assisted by a Second Commissioner; Retired Justice John Gilmour of the Federal Court of Australia. It was also announced that Senior Counsel Matthew Harward and a junior counsel, Alexander Mosop, will also assist. They replace Sam Koim who is unavailable to assist the CoI.

(Chairman of the UBS CoI, Sir Salamo Injia)

Sally Pokiton