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O’NEILL CHARGED

Ialibu-Pangia Member of Parliament Peter O’Neill was charged today, with three counts of giving false evidence under oath during the Commission of Inquiry into the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) loan acquired by Papua New Guinea when Mr O’Neill was Prime Minister.

According to a press statement from the Police Media, Mr O’Neill made himself available at the police headquarters, as requested, where he was interviewed over the allegations and was subsequently arrested and charged on three counts of giving false evidence under oath. He was then taken to the Boroko Police Station where he was released on bail.

Police Commissioner David Manning thanked Mr O’Neill for making himself available to police investigators as requested.

“This is a process and I am pleased the leader made himself available to police to be interviewed. This is the first arrest following on from the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and it will by no means be the last. Our investigations are ongoing and not bound by time,” Mr Manning said.

Mr Manning said a complaint was lodged through the Office of the Commissioner of Police to investigate the findings and recommendations done by the Commission of Inquiry into the UBS loan.

“Police had to look at the Commission of Inquiry report which includes several volumes as well as transcripts of the three-year long COI. Following further investigations by police, it was discovered that statements and information produced by Mr O’Neill between 2011 and 2019 were false and misleading when presented before the commission and contradicted National Executive Council Policy Submission 67/2014 on financial arrangements for the state acquisition of shareholding in Oil Search Limited and state borrowing.

“From Police investigations, the evidence gathered confirmed that the answers given before the commission were flawed and untrue,” Mr Manning said.

Subsequently, three charges were laid on Mr O’Neill today as follows that he:

· Did appear as a witness on the 17th of June 2021 before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures Followed by the Government of Papua New Guinea into Obtaining the Off-Shore Loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland and Related Transactions and given false evidence on oath, that he had “no knowledge whatsoever” of what Oil Search Ltd intended to do with the money paid by the State for the purchase of Oil Search shares in 2014, and that Oil Search Ltd intended to use the money paid by the State for shares in Oil Search Ltd to purchase an interest in PRL-15 Elk Antelope, before the Royal Commission of Inquiry;

· Did appear as a witness on the 9th of August 2021 before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures Followed by the Government of Papua New Guinea into Obtaining the Off-Shore Loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland and Related Transactions give false evidence that, “there was never any discussion” about Oil Search Ltd using the money paid by the State for the purchase of shares in Oil Search Ltd to buy an interest in PRL-15 Elk Antelope and “this information did not come to the government’s notice or particularly at the leadership level” before the said Royal Commission of Inquiry; and

· Did appear as a witness on the 17th of February 202 before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures Followed by the Government of Papua New Guinea into Obtaining the Off-Shore Loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland and Related Transactions give false evidence on oath that “there was never any discussion” about Oil Search Ltd using the money paid by the State for the purchase of shares in Oil Search Limited to buy an interest in PRL-15 Elk Antelope and “this information did not come to government’s notice or particularly the leadership level” before the said Commission of Inquiry.

Meanwhile, after release from bail around midday today, Mr O’Neill while addressing his supporters stated that the claims made against him are politically motivated.

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