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Is PNG taking over Bougainville via the backdoor?

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

 

Over the past month, there has been a sudden spike in reporting on Bougainville Copper Limited and the Panguna mine. The reports vary notably. Some suggest an opening date of 2020. Others suggest something closer to 2025.

Curiously no journalist has asked, who is the man being described variously as BCL’s new CEO or CFO, Mr Mark Wallace Hitchcock?

Given that he appears to be a key source for these various bold claims over BCL’s ambitious objectives, it would seem a question worth asking.

BCL’s website is notably sparse. In contrast to most corporate websites, there is no detailed biography available on its head. Does he have mining experience? What are the blue-chip mining concerns he previously managed? Its impossible to know.

Yet given Hitchock is claiming his company will lead Bougainville to the promised land of milk and honey, one would expect details.

We do know, however, through some detective work that Hitchcock is in a close commercial relationship with a tycoon who is close ally of Peter O’Neill.

Company records reveal that Mr Mark Hitchcock is Director of Vane Mata Quarry Limited, a company majority owned by none other than the Australian magnate, ‘Sir’ Theophilus George Constantinou [through his company Monier Limited]. Constantinou is a man who is deeply involved in business relations with Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

It must be asked, is this a push by the Port Moresby club to take over Panguna?

Another fact that appears to have been overlooked by media commentators is BCL’s share registry. Despite the considerable passage of time since Rio Tinto ‘gave’ its shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments, there is no record of this on the IPA database – a list of the registered shareholders is included below.

For Bougainvilleans concerned over their sovereignty and independence, this should not come as a surprise. The ABG big men talk the talk about independence and speaking with one voice, in reality many in Cabinet are criminals stealing meagre resources – this is no secret, its on the public record in the national court.

These men trade on peoples’ love for their country and government. They know this goodwill gives them virtual impunity. And with no free press on Bougainville, where would alternative sources of information come from. Who can access blogs like this from the village?

But the ABG are asleep at the wheel. Some may talk nationalism, but their main devotion is to money – a sickness Francis Ona reported on way back in 1988. If that means getting into bed with Port Moresby, at the cost of compatriots, they will do it, if the price is right. They only see the gold, not the blood.

When the referendum returns a yes vote, it will become apparent that the ABG is poorly administered and incapable of managing independence without in effect surrendering its sovereignty to a donor such as Australia, or China, who could fleet in consultants to prop up an ailing structure (whether they will is another question). The Big Men will blame the people of Panguna for resisting the mine. They will not take responsibility for the criminal thefts, and corrupt transactions, that are now well documented within the ABG. They will blame the people. 

Many years ago Francis Ona called out fake nationalists in love with money, one of whom is currently President.

In that spirit we should all be asking, if the ABG is placing the entire country’s chips on BCL reopening Panguna. Who is leading this keystone company? And who is this individual tied to?

BCL Share Registry

Bundle 1

Number of shares 642157

CITICORP NOMINEES PTY LTD

Bundle 2

Number of shares 4931743

JP MORGAN CUSTODIAL NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 3

Number of shares 1620157

Thomas John BERESFORD

Bundle 4

Number of shares 57977361

Company Share Register COMPANY SHARE REGISTER 

Bundle 5

Number of shares 214887996

RIO TINTO LIMITED

Bundle 6

Number of shares 76430809

THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Bundle 7

Number of shares 6027187

WESTPAC CUSTODIAN NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 8

Number of shares 1657958

NATIONAL NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 9

Number of shares 3600000

1-3263 BOUGAINVILLE COPPER FOUNDATION LIMITED

Bundle 10

Number of shares 2561500

PUBLIC OFFICERS SUPERANNUATION FUND BOARD

Bundle 11

Number of shares 30725632

ANZ NOMINEES LIMITED

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