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Wild Cat: A fraud uncovered & in dire need of investigation

Eric Schering
Eric Schering - time for something to be done about a K30 millon fraud


WEWAK - By April 2019 prime minister Peter O’Neill was clueless about the depth of opposition to his leadership of Papua New Guinea.

He genuinely believed he would win a vote of no confidence hands down.

In the 3 May 2019 issue of The National newspaper, the title of one of the leading articles had O’Neill saying, “I’m Safe”.

The article quoted him saying that the opposition had “no hope of being successful with a vote of no confidence.” One month later he was out of office and sitting on the back bench.

O’Neill had badly miscalculated the level of support within his own party as well as the backing of his broader coalition.

One of the earliest MP’s to abandon O’Neill was Governor Philip Undialu. In the 28 April 2019 issue of PNG Attitude, Undialu says, “Since the first shipment of gas [LNG] in 2014, over K70 billion has been earned but O’Neill is not telling the country where the money was parked.” K70 billion!

New prime minister James Marape needs a quick win with an investigation to secure evidence of O’Neill’s corruption. 

Currently the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) loan arrangement is being investigated as possible proof. The problem, however, is that it will be an involved, drawn-out investigation, complicated by the fact that the world price of oil dropped from approximately $US100 per barrel to about $US50 a barrel during a key time in the loan negotiations.

In addition, the UBS is not bringing any accusations of corruption against Peter O’Neill.

But a clear-cut example of corruption is the contract between Asia Development Bank (ADB) and Wild Cat Developments Ltd. The deal was signed in 2014 but reporting on the corruption did not come to light until November 2018. O’Neill was the sole proprietor of Wild Cat Developments.

In 2014 ADB and Wild Cat agreed to a $32.86 million contract in which Wild Cat would build 12  bridges in West New Britain. In February 2015 construction began. 

In March the following year, the ADBs Office of Anticorruption and Integrity visited the project and learned that only 10% was completed even though 60% of the money had been spent.

Wildcat brochureThe ADB then decided to pull the plug and, in December 2017, the contract was officially terminated.

That 60% amounted to K33 million in PNG currency. If we deduct 10% for the work completed, it means that O’Neill could have walked away with as much as K29.7 million.

Neither The National or the Post Courier ever reported this. Thankfully The Guardian and PNG Attitude did the work to bring this fraud to the light of day.

And we could expect the ADB Office of Anticorruption and Integrity to be witnesses since it had initially uncovered the fraudulent activity.

On 14 November 2018, PNG Attitude quoted an expert criminologist as saying:

“[The] PM’s conflicts of interest are legion, but there has never been anything like this ADB report before,” said Kristian Lasslett, an investigative criminologist who has been researching corruption in PNG for more than a decade. 

“O’Neill is PNG’s Mr Teflon, while others around him have crashed against the rocks, he seems to escape unscathed.  This ADB investigation is a bone-shaking exception to the rule. An international body has uncovered activity by a company he owns which appears to fit within the dictionary definition of fraud.”

The prime minister has managed to keep this matter under wraps for more than three years.

Papua New Guinea allowed Wild Cat free for seven years. Now it is time for something to be done.


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Michael Lorenz

“Since the first shipment of gas [LNG] in 2014, over K70 billion has been earned but O’Neill is not telling the country where the money was parked.” K70 billion!

If that is gas export earnings then most of it never gets into the PNG system.

"In total, PNG’s export earnings should more than adequately cover all the demand for foreign currency. This is not happening because various PDAs (Project Development Agreements) allow developers of the various extractive industry projects to have foreign currency accounts offshore. Most of the export earnings in foreign currency are held in offshore accounts and do not enter the foreign exchange market"....

Peter Dwyer

PNG Investment Promotion Authority records show that Wild Cat Developments Ltd changed its name to Construction & Procurement Services Ltd in October 2016.

A month earlier LBJ Investments – with Peter O’Neill as one of three directors – ceased being a shareholder in Wild Cat Developments and, at the same time, Sir Theophilus George Constantinou CBE was appointed director of that company.

Constantinou is currently the sole director of Construction & Procurement Services Ltd.

By seeming coincidence Constantinou owns a multi-million dollar house in Sydney and though, when visiting Sydney, he himself stays at the Langham Hotel in the Rocks, it has been reported by The Australian Financial Review that the house provides regular accommodation and a party venue for one of O’Neill’s sons.

It certainly was reported, Peter, and their were also authenticating photographs - KJ

Dr Albert Schram

When investigating Peter O'Neill's thievery and fraud, there is an embarrassment of choice. The question is why was this not done before? How was he allowed to use very legal loophole in the book, and no judge stopped him from doing this?

We have credible reports that large sums of money were transferred from the central bank accounts directly to private accounts in Australia. This is not hard to trace, is it?

Let's also not forget that Peter O'Neill literally grabbed power in 2013. His government was never legitimate.

David Kitchnoge

James Marape, Kerenga Kua et al need to refocus their attention and fix the 'leaking pipes' instead of looking for more water to pass through those hopelessly broken pipes. Tok piksa!

Get to work and establish a strong ICAC. Kerenga Kua should focus all his legal training and experience to creating this important piece of legislation instead of wasting time trying to fight Papua LNG etc.

The ICAC would plug the holes, none bigger, blatant and audacious than this Wild Cat disgrace. Getting this sorted out thoroughly under a properly established ICAC will sort out many issues of leakage at so many different levels.

AG Satori

Wild Cat has had millions passing through its books and yet 13 loyal people are out there around the streets of Port Moresby who are out of work out of pay and are left high and dry.

Wild Cat discharged these ex employees who have either being stood down or terminated from employment with no money put in for their superannuation nor were they paid our proper severance pay. Some of these men served considerable years with the company.

If Eric Schering says that $27 million was in Wild Cat accounts from the ADB sponsored projects in West New Britain Province, the least they should do is to spread their ill gotten gain with their employees by paying the dues for superannuation when it was due.

Instead the ex employees are walking around with caps in hand trying to seek some understanding on how superannuation works and how severance works.

Even the local chief financial officer with Wild Cat was underpaid when he took over from an expatriate and now that he is told to go elsewhere after over 20 years of service, the local CFO is at the loss as to how he can recover underpayment of salaries.

Eric Schering’s Teflon fellow should share the same room at the same lodge with Eremas Wartoto of the ‘Sarakolok West Transport Ltd’ and ‘Mangi long Ples’ fame.

Lindsay F Bond

Squirrel of squillions? As false at office as put-up of 2011 'Repentance'.

All PNG commercial media businesses ought be reviewed by Eric Schering.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's a very good point Francis.

A thorough investigation of O'Neill's wheelings and dealings would be very instructive. He could be said to have written the book on corruption and how to get away with it.

Francis Nii

In PNG, politics is a lucrative business but only those who know the art and tricks of the game play to their advantage with their tracks covered. Peter O'Neill is the grandmaster of this.

His fall from a cunning and tyrannical reign provides the perfect window for getting to the bottom of his past to not only right the wrong but as deterrence against future temptations.

The Marape-Steven government should get ICAC up and rolling to look into O'Neill's pernicious past and all other corruption allegations in the overall battle against corruption in PNG.

Raymond Sigimet

It is evident that Peter O' Neill has enriched himself using his position. And I think he is not the only one.

It's a shame and troubling to see smalltime PNG businessmen who, when elected into parliament for a first term or second and third terms, become multi millionaires while in office.

People are voting in businessmen thinking they will not double dip but it seems the country's political environment nurtures just that.

These enterprising thieves use their time in parliament and government resources at their disposal to award millions of kina in government contracts to their business associates or their own businesses using questionable tender processes.

Peter O' Neill became prime minister because he promised an ICAC to fight corruption in the country. He had eight year and did nothing.

In PNG, the politicians and bureaucrats amass all the gains of in-country corruption using their positions. Watchdogs like the Ombudsman Commission and government departments like the Police Fraud Directorate efforts to quell or investigate corruption are derailed by the government using its state agencies.

The print media does very little to help in investigating and reporting on high profile corruption cases.

Peter O' Neill has a case to answer for the ADB loans for non-existing bridges in West New Britain. He also has a lot of other questions to answer.

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