PNG K3billion UBS loan report released

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says those implicated in the controversial K3 billion (US$1.3 billion) Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) loan will be criminally prosecuted. 

“We will also be implementing the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the UBS loan. This will set the precedent for the future… Any transaction done by a prime minister, ministers or state secretary is a public transaction. “If people demand answers, we must give them answers and this applies to my government too, ” he added.

The inquiry, costing about K30 million(US$8.5 million), was established by Marape in 2019 shortly after he assumed office. 

The probe into the UBS loan secured by the Peter O’Neill government in 2014 to buy shares in Oil Search Ltd lasted about two years. The probe sought to establish facts surrounding the whole transaction, including all persons and entities involved in the deal, and whether or not the deal followed proper and legal process and procedures.

The 15-volume report was completed on March 31 and was with inquiry commissioner Margaret White who was in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Peter O’Neill said Marape should wait until the report is tabled in Parliament and only Parliament can act on its recommendations. “It is not for Marape to act, as he has been hell bent on politicking the inquiry from the beginning… He has consistently undermined the inquiry by making unfounded claims that the transaction was illegal… Apart from interest payments, no government funds were used to repay the loan. It was repaid through the sale of Oil Search shares… The truth will prevail … One day he will answer for all this,” O’Neill said.