Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Peter O’Neill’

How the elite profit while a nation suffers their incompetence

February 19, 2018 1 comment

Port Moresby, a city where the elite profit while the rest suffer the consequences of their incompetence

Imagine a company that is in debt, heavily in debt and still racking up more losses.

Imagine a company that in 2016 alone lost over K354 million.

Imagine a company where the total liabilities exceed the total assets by more than K218 million.

Imagine that this is a company set up by the government to manage a nation’s interests in its abundant mineral resources.

Now imagine no more and say hello to Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, formerly Petromin PNG Holdings Limited.

The two numbers above are from Kumul Minerals Holdings latest Annual Return, which is for the 2016 financial year.

How could a company that, according to Statute, is supposed to be the commercial enterprise that participates in mineral exploration, development, production, processing and marketing activities on behalf of the State, be run into near bankruptcy?

But never fear, the Directors, the people responsible for this appalling state of affairs, are still profiting handsomely.

While the company was racking up losses of K354 million in 2016 alone its Board members were still taking a handsome pay packet:

Director

Remuneration

Brown Bai

K 159,759

Ian Goddard

K 211,337

Jerry Wemin

K 126,227

William Searson

K 102,654

Richard Tengdui

K 99,809

Issac Lupari

K 68,232

Peter Pokawin

K 23,959

Arunavu Basu

K 182.816

Peter Graham

K 59,028

Stanley Lira

K 33,129

Richard Kuna

K 34,379

In total K1,101,329 paid to eleven men [yes, all men, no room here for gender diversity let alone equality] many, if not all of whom, already occupy other well paid jobs.

K1.1 million paid for overseeing losses of over K354 million, losses that were almost three times greater than in the previous year, 2015 (K133 million).

And the excess does not end there. In addition to the Board remuneration, Kumul Minerals Holdings had 10 staff who earned more than K100,000 each in 2016.

One of those staff earned over K920,000, two more over K620,000, another over K450,000 and one over K300,000. Two more earned over K270,000.

In total, Kumul Minerals Holdings paid its staff just under K9 million in 2016 and spent a further K1.5 million on consultancy and professional fees.

Who is ultimately responsible for this negligent mismanagement of our nations mineral wealth, and the looting of an empty pot?

Well it has to be the trustee shareholder does it not? The person who effectively owns the company on behalf of the nation, who is none other than one Peter O’Neill.

It seems our trustee is not doing a very good job!

Advertisements

Ten month delay on Manumanu inquiry is unacceptable

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been vocal in the media recently telling anti-corruption warriors to be patient and wait for the results of an administrative inquiry into the alleged illegal Manumanu land deals – transactions involving millions of kina in state funds and hundreds of hectares of land.

See also:

But it has already been ten months since the scandal erupted in the media. It was early February when the Prime Minister promised three investigations, a Commission of Inquiry (later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry) a police fraud squad investigation and an Ombudsman Commission inquiry.

Now the Prime Minister says the Administrative Inquiry is yet to complete its investigations and the results will be known in an ‘appropriate timeframe’ but given no clue as to what that means.

Meanwhile the people implicated in the scandal and their party are back at the heart of government and the police and Ombudsman Commission are completely silent.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we are all victims of government corruption; corruption that O’Neill is happy to see continue while he sits on his hands.

The Midas Touch and Papua New Guinea’s kleptocracy

August 30, 2017 3 comments

Papua New Guinea’s new investigative website, PNGi Central, has published an in-depth examination of the career of Peter O’Neill that has largely escaped notice in the chaos of the elections.

Published in three parts – Secret Millionaire; The Big Skim; and Lift OffThe Midas Touch lifts the lid on how corruption thrives in Papua New Guinea and how politicians abuse their positions and milk the system to build considerable private fortunes.

The Midas Touch shows Papua New Guinea as a classic kleptocratic state ruled by a small elite or oligarchy, who exploit the nations natural resources and steal. They enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. This kleptocracy is currently led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Over the last twenty-years, O’Neill has abused his various political positions to enrich himself by building a network of companies that have benefited from government and foreign aid contracts, soft loans and broader policy decisions.

While in public office it is estimated that O’Neill has amassed a personal fortune of well over K150 million, all the while juggling complex conflicts of interest as his companies have benefited from government policy and spending decisions.

In addition:

  • O’Neill liquidated assets valued at more than K100 million in the lead up to this year’s national  elections;
  • His hidden corporate interests include shareholdings in more than 30 companies including hospitality, real estate, finance, retailing, air transport, communications, information technology, mining support, funeral services and construction;
  • His companies have been given contracts by the Australian government and Asian Development Bank, among others, and are frequently used by the mining and other foreign-owned industries;
  • He has directly benefited from fraudulent land and property dealings documented in two Commission’s of Inquiry; and
  • O’Neil has completely failed to comply with companies legislation on the timely, proper and complete filing of financial returns.

According to The Midas Touch, the story of O’Neill’s business empire starts in 1997, when O’Neill was plucked from obscurity and appointed to positions in various State Owned Enterprises by the notoriously corrupt Prime Minister, William Skate. O’Neill immediately started to use these positions to enrich himself and his his business partners.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, O’Neill flirted with disaster when many of his early scams became the subject of two major Commission’s of Inquiry into the National Provident Fund and Investment Corporation. O’Neill survived however, and used his election as an MP and subsequent appointment to various Ministerial positions to substantially grow his business empire, an empire that has flourished since O’Neill seized the Prime Ministership in 2011.

Along this journey, O’Neill has surrounded himself with a small group of close associates, many of them Australian’s, who run his companies and with a coterie of businessmen and lawyers who have profited from his abuses and protected him from scrutiny.

Here is a quick summary of what you will find in the three parts of The Midas Touch.

Part 1. Secret Millionaire: How Peter O’Neill and associates have made a killing 

In the space of 20 years, Peter O’Neill has built a business and political empire. Secret Millionaire introduces us to the businesses and the players behind O’Neill’s rise and his early years as a student, accountant and struggling businessman before his big break when he is appointed head of various SOEs.

Part Two. The Big Skim: Peter O’Neill Inc meets Don Sawong and Tos Barnett

In 2003 and 2007 the O’Neill empire was rocked by two COIs. Part II of The Midas Touch looks into the unwieldy scams, and shams, it is alleged Peter O’Neill became an expert in.

Part Three. Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire

As O’Neill’s political career went from strength to strength after 2011, so did his business empire. Part III of The Midas Touch looks into some of the more controversial deals and contacts that led O’Neill to become one of the richest men in PNG.

Transparency International cries foul over appointment of Duma

August 7, 2017 5 comments

In February William Duma was suspended now he is back at the very heart of government

In February Prime Minister Peter O’Neill suspended Ministers William Duma and Fabian Pok and announced a Commission of Inquiry into their role in the Manumanu military base and land scandal.

That Commission of Inquiry has never happened, but in the meantime the revelations about Mr Duma and his connection to various corrupt land deals have only intensified, as these stories illustrate:

But now, in one of his first acts as Prime Minister since the controversial elections, Peter O’Neill has reappointed Duma a Minister in his caretaker Cabinet. The Mt Hagen MP and United Resources Party Leader, has his hands back on the Petroleum and Energy portfolio and will also handle Housing and Urbanisation, Public Enterprise and State Investments, Transport, Agriculture and Livestock!

Transparency International is outraged, as we all should be. TIPNG is calling on the Prime Minster to keep his promise to the people, and revoke the appointment of Duma.

In a statement, TIPNG says Peter O’Neill, is on public record as making a clear commitment to the people that the estimated K2m Administrative Inquiry will examine the details of the Manumanu land deal.

TIPNG says so far, Mr O’Neill has fallen short of his own standards with no publication of the findings of the inquiry, and now the reappointment of Mr. Duma with no consideration of his promise to the people.

It says Papua New Guineans expect leaders to be cleared of all alleged serious wrong-doings before they are entrusted to make decisions which will affect the people.

The secrets behind O’Neill’s hidden fortune – The Midas Touch Part III

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

PNGi has released Part 3 of The Midas Touch, an in-depth report into Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s business empire and how its development has been interwoven with his political career.

Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire reveals O’Neill’s private business interests have included oil and gas industry support services, construction, airlines, insurance, finance and banking, consumer lending, information technology, funeral services, hospitality and gambling, travel and tourism, and consultancy services.

It also shows how, as Peter O’Neill’s political career reached its crowning peak in 2011, his business empire underwent an astonishing period of growth.

At its height, this empire commanded assets worth in excess of K250 million, although even this figure doesn’t account for any corporate holdings held on trust for O’Neill or held through other proxy shareholdings.

There is nothing necessarily sinister in a business empire, but in a national economy where the state is a major investor and consumer, having a Prime Minister personally possessing significant stakes in key markets, generates fertile ground for conflicts of interest.

Avoiding conflicts of interest is a demand enshrined in the Constitution, Section 27 states a leader must not ‘ place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests’ and ‘shall not use his office for personal gain’ or ‘enter into any transaction or engage in any enterprise or activity that might give rise to doubt in the public mind’.

To test how Peter O’Neill matches up to these standards, PNGi has mapped his business empire, through a convoluted web of companies in which he has an explicit stake. In doing so, PNGi has uncovered evidence that O’Neill’s businesses have directly benefited from government contracts and contracts awarded or funded by international financial institutions and foreign governments.

Key findings include:

  • O’Neill’s business Wild Cat Developments, which he has recently sold, was one of the first to benefit from the construction of the controversial new Western Pacific University, in the Prime Minister’s Pangia-Ialibu electorate.
  • Wild Cat has also earned significant multi million kina revenues from Asian Development Bank funded projects.
  • O’Neill used the Prime Minister’s office to patronise a joint-venture he shares with Sir Luciano and Lady Ni Yumei Cragnolini, without seemingly revealing his beneficial interest.
  • Remington Technology, another company in which the Prime Minister has a substantial stake, has benefited from contracts with state entities, government departments, and Australian government agencies.

Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire also reveals O’Neill owned entities have consistently breached important reporting requirements set out in the Company Act 1997.

These findings raise a series of important technical questions:

  • Has Peter O’Neill declared all his interests to the Ombudsman Commission and sought special dispensation for his voluminous range of business interests?
  • Did he recuse himself from any National Executive Council (NEC) decision, which his companies would benefit from, directly or indirectly?
  • Have the contracts complied with the governance protocols of the relevant International Financial Institutions and foreign government agencies?

The findings also raise some ethical issues:

  • Is it right for senior political figures to retain large business holdings?
  • Should a Prime Minister be able to personally profit from decisions made by his government, even where he has recused himself from the decision making process, and declared his assets to the Ombudsman Commission?

PNGi says The Midas Touch is based on months of digitally assisted analysis of several thousand corporate records, hundreds of official documents and media reporting. It comprises three parts:

  1. The Secret Millionaire: Inside the O’Neill Empire
  2. The Big Skim: Peter O’Neill Inc meets Don Sawong and Tos Barnett
  3. Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire

Why these PNG elections are taking us towards dictatorship

July 4, 2017 1 comment

Oro Governor Gary Juffa speaking at a campaign gathering … explaining the qualities to look for in national leadership.

Source: Gary Juffa | Pacific Media Centre

I suspect that these Papua New Guinea elections have been so deliberately set to fail, leaving much room for fraud and confusion, that we will be distracted from what is really going on – the establishment of a dictatorship.

Already Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has his own special police unit that flies around Papua New Guinea escorting him in his private airlines, he has a special army unit of 40 exclusively for his callout, he controls the media and Public Service.

And, it seems, the Police and Defence commands — and perhaps the judiciary … the signs and red flags are blinking bright red now…

Yet many people do not see it at all. We are inching closer towards dictatorship and the ensuing bloodshed and violence that must come from the hostility towards it. But like lemmings and sheep, we are led to that reality with little resistance at all. Is this the Papua New Guinea we all believed in once upon a time?

Last Wednesday in Oro province provided a demonstration of how much the PNG government is not for PNG. It was also a demonstration of how democracy should not work.

For instance, the majority — between a third and a half — of Popondetta Urban voting age citizens have not voted because the current common roll does not have their names. Many citizens claim they had made the effort to update their details and were still turned away.

Preliminary roll ‘okay’
Meanwhile, Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato has advised that the preliminary roll can be used. This means he indirectly agrees that the EC failed to effectively update the 2017 roll. This instruction was obviously not made known to Electoral Commission officials managing the polling at the Independence Oval on Wednesday.

Many people who had taken time out and had travelled to vote were turned away angry and anxious. This election was certainly costing them. They will have to come back for the last day, but the slowness will probably ensure that a large group will not have been processed by the end of the polling at 4pm.

This will mean that democracy certainly did not prevail in this instance. In fact, many will probably agree that come the end of these elections, democracy was hardly a reality everywhere in Papua New Guinea.

This should hardly be a surprise given that we have actually endured a covert dictatorship and hardly realised it.

Own effort
Meanwhile, not a few of the learned are saying that everyone should have made their own effort to ensure they were registered.

A true statement we all would like to agree with. I was tempted to think this way too. Then I thought of my people in rural PNG. My uncles and aunts who do not read or write and are at once the greatest selfless humans I know and, despite whatever people think, are equal shareholders of this great nation, Papua New Guinea.

They too deserve to vote. They too deserve to be informed. They too have the right to be given the opportunity to decide whether they want to update their details on the common role or not.

May I just say to all my learned friends making such statements as “it’s your fault if you are not on the roll; stop whinging”, that this would be true if the awareness programme had been been carried out sufficiently and it would be true in a society which is totally literate and where means of communication are available to all, a society that, say, had more then just 40 years or so as an independent nation of 1000 tribes with their own language groupings and cultural peculiarities.

Such statements are also spiteful about our people. Many of our people who live in rural PNG do not have access to the benefits of technology and modern services and goods that you may have had and may have now.

Our people, remember them? Well some of these are the people who will adore you and feed you and love you selflessly when or should you ever go home for a visit from time to time.

It would also be a safe statement to make if Papua New Guinea were governed by a government which allowed information access for all. A government that made funding available for provincial governments and relevant information dissemination entities like the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

Government by the people
Of course, that would have to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people …which this government clearly is not, if any of its decisions made in the last five years are anything to go by.

It is clear that the Electoral Commission failed. But the commission is not entirely to be blamed because, the buck stops at the top, and that’s the People’s National Congress (PNC) government of Peter O’Neill.

They have totally failed in the last five years to ensure that everyone was on the roll.

The awareness programme was an abysmal failure. Rural Papua New Guinea especially had virtually no knowledge of this. That’s 85 percent of PNG.

Adequately informed
Were our people adequately informed? They were not.

The Electoral Commission had five years to do this. It failed.

Just as it did with the K200 million national identity (NID) project. Deliberately too, it appears.

This government failed. Peter O’Neill failed

The 2017 Elections are looking very much like a failure.

A planned failure, perhaps … it has to be.

Sipping champagne
From the PNC government’s perspective, maybe they are chuckling and sipping champagne and congratulating each other on a job well done. Chaos provides opportunities for those who plan it to. Who knows?

Meanwhile in stark contrast, preparations for APEC seem to be going on very well. Surprise, surprise. Funding is abundantly available and preparatory meetings, plans, strategies and training and capacity testing efforts are well in progress. Not a few MPs whose companies will be involved in various services needed have already picked up hefty contracts.

So obviously the government can do a great job. If it suits them.

Ask yourself, is APEC more important then the democratic rights of a people to elect their leaders to represent their interests in Parliament?

This just shows how much the PNC government cares for its people. How much? In my measure, it was so weak and poor an effort, so pathetic, it was “zilch”.

Gary Juffa’s commentaries are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. This commentary is a combination of two of his latest pieces.

New governance watchdog PNGi exposes O’Neill’s business networks

June 22, 2017 1 comment

Masthead today from the PNGi Central website. Image: PMW

Source: Pacific Media Watch

PNGi is set to revolutionise governance in Papua New Guinea by cracking open the secrets of the rich and powerful and exposing them to public view.

Using the latest digital technologies, PNGi aims to investigate, analyse and expose the often hidden and opaque systems standing behind the abuse of political and economic power.

Its two flagship resources are the PNGi Portal and PNGi Central websites. They have been established and are sustained by an informal network of academics, activists and journalists involved in researching and writing about current issues in Papua New Guinea.

“In accordance with a robust risk assessment process, in some instances, contributors are protected by publishing their work anonymously,” said PNGi in a response to a query from Pacific Media Watch.

“However, all published material has been peer-reviewed, and is rigorously referenced, using freely accessible documentary sources. This allows anyone to verify each factual claim made.”

The PNGi Portal is an on-line database of governance reporting. It collates documents produced by institutions like the Ombudsman Commission, Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee and makes them available to the public through a powerful search engine.

The public can now search and cross-match reports, to uncover serial misconduct by target individuals or entities.

The database is a major addition to due diligence in Papua New Guinea. It will add value to the work of journalists, researchers, students, public officials, oversight agencies, citizens and responsible corporate actors.

Sitting alongside the portal is PNGi Central, a reporting platform that will use a range of formats to communicate the results of research into:

  • the discrete networks that lie at the heart of the country’s economic and political power, and which are mired in allegations of improper and illicit conduct;
  • the institutional and legal mechanisms the networks use;
  • common transaction patterns; and
  • the broader policy and legal factors that are permissive of improper or illegal activities.

PNGi Central represents the most sophisticated reporting effort yet in the region, to speak truth to power through rigorous research, accessible to the public through digestible mechanisms ranging from feature investigations, through to podcasts, power profiles and court reports.

O’Neill’s business network
To launch the new websites and illustrate PNGi’s research capabilities, PNGi Central has published a report into the business network of current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Titled The Midas Touch, this investigative feature, to be published in three-parts, will reveal hundreds of millions of kina in assets owned by the Prime Minister, and a business empire that has its origins in alleged frauds condemned in two Commissions of Inquiry.

Part I, published today, unlocks for the first time the evidence of the Prime Minister himself, as published in Commission transcripts, and unravels a complicated series of corporate takeovers and hidden deals that have made Peter O’Neill a very wealthy man.

Parts II and II will follow over the coming weeks.

Once complete, The Midas Touch will expose how the Prime Minister’s corporate empire has benefited from government decision making, multi-lateral loans, and even foreign government spending.

PNGi contributions aim is to stimulate debate and encourage the development of new laws and policies that will be effective in the fight to control market abuse, corruption and other improper dealings, and, ultimately, to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

The Papua New Guinea 2017 general election is June 24 until July 8.