PORT MORESBY – The final report of the PNG Ombudsman Commission into allegations of improper borrowing of a $1.239 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to purchase nearly 150 million shares in Oil Search Limited has been provided to PNG Attitude.
In its principal findings the Commission strongly criticises the conduct of prime minister Peter O’Neill, his main rival for leadership James Marape and other prominent leaders and concludes that they be investigated under the Leadership Code of the PNG constitution.
The Ombudsman Commission states the conduct of O’Neill was wrong and improper in a number of serious respects, including that he committed the government to purchase shares without the prior approval of the National Executive Council, he failed to present the loan to parliament for debate and approval and he misled the National Executive Council.
The Commission also made findings of wrong and improper conduct against finance minister James Marape, state enterprises minister Ben Micah, ambassador Isaac Lupari, treasury secretary Dairi Vele, supply & tenders board chairman Philip Eludeme, central bank governor Loi Bakani, finance department secretary Dr Ken Ngangan and lawyer and consultant Carl Okuk.
It further said its investigation revealed many irregularities as well as wrong and improper conduct committed by the prime minister, minister Micah, minister Marape, Mr Bakani, Mr Vele, Mr Eludeme, Dr Ngangan, ambassador Lupari and Mr Okuk in facilitating the engagement of UBS as well as the engagement of private financial and legal consultants in connection with the loan.
The Commission recommended that O‘Neill, Marape, Vele, Eludeme, Lupari and Wapu Sonk (managing director of Kumul Petroleum) be investigated under the Leadership Code.
It also said Ngangan must strictly comply with the Public Finance (Management) Act when approving the release of funds not appropriated in the budget and that Okuk be investigated by the PNG Law Society.
The Ombudsman’s report into the UBS matter is fated December 2018 but apparently it has only just seen the light of day. You can access it here. Download 'Alleged improper borrowing of AU$1 239 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS Report)'