COI to continue with public hearing

The Government had extended the period from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 after the COI had requested for an extension to its reporting deadline.

In a statement, the COI said the government has granted its request and will now commence the public hearing on Thursday 2nd December 2021.

The final report of the inquiry was supposed to go before Parliament during the October session.

COI yet to submit report

In a statement issued on the 6th of July, the Commission stated that the final report will be submitted on the 30th of September and tabled on the floor of parliament.

However, the date has passed with the report yet to be finalized and submitted.

 The report stated, “In the meantime, it is continuing to investigate and analyse the matters raised by the Terms of Reference. Directions will be made in due course as to any potentially affected individuals or entities, ensuring that they have sufficient time to lodge any written submissions”.

PM: Schemes Used State In Deal

James Marape who was the then Finance Minister in the 2014 government and part of the cabinet that approved the controversial K3 billion UBS loan appeared before the inquiry on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister said his views remained that the policy that the policy submission on the UBS loan was “bulldozed” by the then Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on March 6th, 2014 during the cabinet meeting.

“There was no prior policy announcement on this matter. It arrived on the 6th of March and it was processed then,” said PM Marape.

Micah Testifies

He was answering to questions raised by the members of the Inquiry if he had a role to play in the NEC submission on the controversial Union Bank of Switzerland loan (UBS) and related transactions made by the government.

Micah said as the then State Enterprises Minister he was responsible for coordinating the refinancing of the IPIC loan that was used to acquire the Government equity in the PNG LNG project.

“I was aware of the UBS loan to buy back our shares from the Arabs, IPIC. I was not aware that there was such loan to acquire 10 per cent shares from Oil Search.

Duma: I was decommissioned because of my views

Minister Duma said this at this morning’s Commission of Inquiry session.

Under section 99 and 100 of the Oil and Gas Act, the Minister for Petroleum and Energy authorizes transfers and deals.

“In a significant transaction like this, I could say that the Minister for Petroleum and Energy would have been required to give his considerations and views.  

UBS inquiry not a waste of time and money

 He said this in response to criticism from the Opposition.

The COI was established to look into the processes and procedures used by former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in 2014, in obtaining the UBS loan and related transactions.

“This will not be another inquiry that collects dust, but will be processed to punish those involved and claim damages.

Somare before COI

Questions put forward to him by the inquiry involve the IPIC transaction acquired in 2009 by the government when he was the State Enterprises Minister including the total revenue figures from the PNG LNG exports.

The main focus of the Commission of Inquiry is to investigate how a substantial amount of public money was lost in the UBS transaction, however the inquiry will also seek answers relating to the International Petroleum Investment company (IPIC ) loan, that was used to fund the PNG LNG Project.    

Inquiry questions Maladina’s involvement in UBS transaction

Emmanuel Asigau, who is a partner of Pacific Legal Group revealed at the inquiry that Jimmy Maladina was paid K1 million for his consultancy services in relation to the transaction.

The State Solicitor, Daniel Rolpagarea during one of his appearances earlier, told the inquiry that Pacific Legal Group was assisting the State Solicitor to get the legal work ready for the loan agreement.

Asigau said Treasury paid K1.6 million as legal fees to Pacific Legal Group of which, K1 million was paid to Maladina.

State Solicitor Gives Evidence

Among people summoned today was State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea. In his capacity as the state solicitor, he was responsible for legal clearance of the loan deal.

Daniel Rolpagarea said to his knowledge Parliament never approved the K3 billion UBS loan.

He said, he was pressured on 5th of March, 2014 to give legal clearance, as cabinet was to sit the following day, 6th of March to discuss the loan.

Inquiry Needs Documents

Sonk, who appeared for his second oral examination at the inquiry on Monday, was unable to provide the documents, which involved KPHL’s involvement in the controversial deal.

The proceeding started with a disappointed bench over the lack of punctuality by the Managing Director of the Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited, Wapu Sonk.