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January 23, 2022
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Controversial UBS Loan’s Supreme Court Reference

A Supreme Court Reference by Justice Catherine Davani regarding investigations by the Ombudsman Commission, into Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s alleged misconduct of the K3 billion UBS loan, was heard by a Supreme Court Bench today.

The bench comprised of Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, Justice Abeng Kandakasi, Justice Panuel Mogish, Justice Stephen Kassman and Justice Terence Higgins.

Present at the Supreme Court Reference today were Ombudsman Commission Lawyer, Camillus Narokobi, who appeared for the Ombudsman Commission, Rigo Lua, and Phoebe Sangitari.

QC Justice Mal Varitimos appeared for the 4th Intervener, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill; and lawyers of the 5th intervener, Attorney General, Ano Pala.

The SCR is in reference to Prime Minister’s Peter O’Neill’s referral by the Ombudsman Commission on his alleged misconduct charges in relation to the payment of the K3 billion UBS loan.

Narokobi submitted that with additional material facts presented, it would be accepted by the bench to determine these facts on par with questions 1 to 5 of the Ombudsman Commission’s Case reference book.

These facts were pertaining to administrative functions and powers of the Ombudsman Commission in regards to:
• The process of the OC;
• Terms of carrying out the investigations; and
• Provisions to serve section 17 (1) Notice to investigate persons

QC Justice Mal Varitimos submitted that the decision of a judge in the National Court was not necessary for the Supreme Court to determine the references tried in a Supreme Court jurisdiction, saying it is prejudice.

The lawyer for the 5th Intervener, Ano Pala, told the bench that Mr Pala was not party to the National Court Proceedings and the issue of prejudice does not apply to his client.

Therefore, he endorsed submissions by lawyers of the defendant on par with section 18(2) and section 19 references that arise out of the National Court Proceedings. This is during which parties not satisfied with the facts were referred to the SC to determine the evidences.

In response, Mr Narokobi told the court that sections 18(2) and section 19 references had gone before Judge Davani’s directions hearing before it gad come to the Supreme Court.

The bench adjourned the matter to Wednesday, November 21 for a decision on the facts application by OC.

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