INQUIRY INTO UBS LOAN STILL FACING HICCUPS
January 29, 2020 – Media Statement
The Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) loan deal was again able to sit as scheduled on Monday, 27th January 2020 but without the counsel assisting the commission and solicitors supporting counsel.
The inquiry heard that of the 12 witnesses requested to appear, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was the only one in attendance and had indicated through his counsel that he was willing to help in the inquiry.
Those who were summoned to appear before the COI were former PNG High Commissioner to Australia Sir Charles Lepani, Prof Tim Besley (England), Bank of PNG Governor Loi Bakani, Prime Minister James Marape, Prof Lekshmi Pillai, Dr Lawrence Sausse, Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti, New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan, former MP and prime minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta, National Research Institute director Dr Osborne Sanida and former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
COI chairman Sir Salamo Injia said the unavailability of counsel assisting the commissioner was due to the fact that a private law firm engaged by the commission on the advice of the State Solicitor was yet to move applications for admissions of overseas barristers before the National Court.
He said the unavailability of solicitors was because the National Executive Council (NEC) was yet to decide on the award of contract for solicitors following recommendation of the National Procurement Commission submitted to NEC on Dec 17.
“The commissioners also note that the commission is yet to receive additional funding that was approved by the prime minister on Sept 19,” Sir Salamo said.
“Without this additional funding, the commissioners will be unable to perform the bulk of its work.
“The unavailability of counsel and solicitors for (yesterday’s) sitting, does not pose any major difficulty as this commission will be able to deal with preliminary matters associated with witnesses required to attend for part one of the inquiry.”