Sir Michael Somare announces retirement from politics
Perfect gentleman

PNG government closer to gaining control of Ok Tedi

Ok Tedi mineKC VIJAYAN | The Straits Times (Singapore)

THE Papua New Guinea government's move to wrest control of gold and coal mines in its Western Province inched forward when the High Court here ordered the Singapore-based operating company to release key accounts for inspection.

The court found the PNG government had the right to examine the documents based on its contract terms with the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).

The items for inspection include ledger and management accounts as well as disputed documents involving expenditure.

Justice Judith Prakash, in judgment grounds last month, further held the PNG state had a right to make copies of the documents.

"Accounting documents are some of the most information-sensitive documents in a company's records and often require detailed and lengthy study that is not achievable during the physical inspection of documents," she added.

The Singapore-incorporated PNGSDP is a non-profit firm tasked with developing the mines for PNG's social and economic benefit. It was formed in 2001 and is based here so that it can remain independent and unaffected by any potential change in the PNG government, according to the country's former prime minister Mekere Morauta, who is the PNGSDP board chairman.

A third of the annual dividends from the company that runs the mines - OK Tedi Mining - was to be used for a fund to support PNG development projects while two- thirds were ploughed into a long- term fund to benefit PNG after the mine closed. PNGSDP owned 52 per cent of the shares in OK Tedi while the PNG state owned 20 per cent.

The judge noted that at the end of 2012, the development fund contained US$158 million while the long-term fund had US$1.35 billion.

PNG claimed PNGSDP had amended its Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) in 2012 without state consent.

The state is suing PNGSDP for failing to provide an account of all its dealings with its assets, claiming PNGSDP had dealt with them in breach of new programme rules.

In denying the allegations, PNGSDP is counter-claiming that the state's purported removal of PNGSDP's directors and CEO in October 2013 was void and they had full authority to run the business.

In the run-up to the pending main suit, the state sought this court order to access PNGSDP's books.

PNGSDP, defended by Cavenagh Law lawyer Nish Shetty, argued the state had no right of inspection and, even if it did, the right did not include the documents sought.

Wong Partnership lawyer Koh Swee Yen countered that the state must succeed, "especially in the light of the many admissions PNGSDP has made to the effect that the state has a right of inspection".

Justice Prakash found there was an enforceable collateral contract between the parties that incorporated the M&A as part of its terms. "This point is relatively uncontroversial," she said, in allowing the accounts inspection but making clear the minutes of meetings and disputed papers involving gifts or sale of subsidiaries and assets were excluded.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Vikki John

And Bob Marley

"Positive Vibration"

Live if you want to live
(Rastaman vibration, yeah! Positive!)
That's what we got to give!
(I'n'I vibration yeah! Positive)
Got to have a good vibe!
(Iyaman Iration, yeah! Irie ites!)
(Positive vibration, yeah! Positive!)

If you get down and you quarrel everyday,
You're saying prayers to the devils, I say. Wo-oh-ooh!
Why not help one another on the way?
Make it much easier. (Just a little bit easier)

Say you just can't live that negative way,
If you know what I mean;
Make way for the positive day,
'Cause it's news (new day) - news and days -
New time (new time), and if it's a new feelin' (new feelin'), yeah! -
Said it's a new sign (new sign):
Oh, what a new day!

Pickin' up?
Are you pickin' up now?
Jah love - Jah love (protect us);
Jah love - Jah love (protect us);
Jah love - Jah love (protect us).

Rastaman vibration, yeah! (Positive!)
I'n'I vibration, yeah! (Positive!) Uh-huh-huh, a yeah!
Iyaman Iration, yeah! (Irie ites!) Wo-oo-oh!
*Positive vibration, yeah! (Positive!)

Pickin' up?
Are you pickin' up now?
Pickin' up?
Are you pickin' up now?
Pickin' up? (Jah love, Jah love -)
Are you pickin' (protect us!) up now?
Pickin' up? (Jah love, Jah love -)
Are you pickin' (protect us!) up now?
Pickin' up? (Jah love, Jah love -)
Are you pickin' (protect us!) up now?
Pickin' up?
Are you pickin' up now?

Peter Kranz

Michael - 'In like Flynn' comes to mind. Quicker than Paraka Lawyers can submit a claim for K5 million.

Michael Dom


That's who Peter O'Neill reminds me of - Pac-Man!

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm not sure this is as significant as it seems. Technically O'Neill may have advanced a couple of millimetres towards laying his sticky fingers on the PNGSDP money but there's a long way to go.

Especially significant is the fact that the fund was set up so that PNG pollies couldn't get at it and spend it all. He's still got to negotiate those provisions.

The intent was to keep it out of politicians' hands. Intent is a big deal in matters of law.

Peter Kranz

Talking about State Government control of natural wealth, I've no doubt that it seems morally just for PNG to take control of its resources.

But a lesson can be learned from ancient Athens. When The Athenian alliance (or maybe empire) was at it's height and fighting the Persians was a major obsession the Athenians were trying to raise money for building new warships (sound familiar?) They had this revolutionary idea that it should be the richest who paid. And so when they needed a new ship they sent the bill to the richest citizen (call him citizen A), who had to pay for it all.

He (for they were all 'hes') could appeal this by claiming that Citizen B was richer than he was, therefore he could evade the debt and citizen B should be liable.

They had a way of resolving this. They measured their respective wealth before judges. The loser forfeited his estate to the state, thus paying for the warship.

An interesting idea.

Maybe PNG could require the proven richest persons to pay for state initiatives.

Greece was the precursor of democracy, and maybe also the precursor of socialism (and also in passing, merely most of what we know as art, literature, philosophy, science, history and poetry.)

Poor old Socrates saw the downside of this, sentenced to death for promoting undemocratic values, blaspheming the Gods and corrupting the youth.

'All of which we discuss is merely a series of footnotes to Socrates and his pupil Plato.' (That quote is due to AN Whitehead.)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)