By Quinton Alomp – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Former Public Enterprise Minister and Angoram MP, Arthur Somare, said the people of PNG expect truth regarding the UBS and Oil Search deal.
However he said Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has been hiding the truth and is blaming the previous government for the wrong reasons.
Recently O’Neill said the UBS loan of $1.2 billion obtained last year to buy a 10.1 per cent stake in Oil Search Limited, a leading oil exportation company in the country, is necessary for what he described as to “clean up the mess left behind by the previous (Somare) government.”
However, Arthur Somare told journalists today he was not aware which Somare (Michael or Arthur) the Prime Minister specifically referred to.
“I stand to defend myself that I did not create any mess,” Arthur said.
He went on to explain the exchangeable bond deal it entered into with the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi in 2009.
The deal, which Arthur acquired as the Minister responsible, was meant to build the PNG LNG project.
The deal involved the selling of the State’s 196.6 million shares (17.6 %) in Oil Search shares to IPIC valued at $4.20 per share at that time on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The money was used to pay for the State’s equity in the PNG LNG project.
“For O’Neilll to say that the IPIC deal was wrong is absolute nonsense and demonstrates his total complete lack of understanding of the commercial arrangements that the Somare Government had to put into place to secure PNG’s back-in right in the LNG project, which stands at 19.6 direct equity ownership in the project.
“Without the IPIC bond, O’Neill would not be enjoying the benefits of being an equity holder in the LNG project today,” Arthur said.
He said the UBS deal has no benefits to ordinary people. It is allegedly locked up in secret accounts in Singapore run and operated by UBS.
He challenged PM O’Neill for a debate to clarify this issue of national interest.
“O’Neill must now realise that he cannot continue to rely on his deceptive statements on such matter of national interest,” Arthur said.
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