Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says he will ensure that the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) Commission-of-Inquiry (COI) report is tabled in Parliament and that criminal actions, if necessary, will be taken against those responsible for the controversial UBS loan which has cost Papua New Guinea over US$300 million (K1 billion).

The UBS COI was established by PM Marape in 2019 to probe into the A$1.2 billion (K3.12 billion) loan from UBS in 2014 by former prime minister, Peter O’Neill, which has cost the country dearly on top of the loan and interest.

PM Marape said executive governments, and prime ministers, “must be aware that all executive government transactions and decisions  must not be hidden from scrutiny if required by people”.

He said this today (April 5 2022) when receiving the 15-volume report from UBS COI Chairman and Chief Commissioner Sir Salamo Injia.

“We are a democratic country and any government transactions – that prime ministers and ministers of state preside over or secretaries of state or other agents of government preside over – must be opened for public scrutiny if deemed illegal and improper,” PM Marape said.

“When demanded by the people for scrutiny, these transactions ought to be brought back on the table and scrutinised, because our Constitution allows for that.

“We are a robust democracy, hence, transactions that require public scrutiny – no matter how high the cost is or no matter how long it takes – must be scrutinised to settle questions of impropriety in those transactions.

“We will give justice to the effort put in thus far by the UBS inquiry  by ensuring that it is tabled in Parliament, but more importantly, that it is progressed beyond Parliament.

“I want to assure the country that those who will need to repay Papua New Guineans for the money that was lost will be sued for that if Inquiry establishes that.

“Those who are recommended for criminal penalties will be pursued for the losses.

“However, at this stage, I am not privy to the recommendations.

“I will leave these potential courses of actions for after the report has been formally handed down and recommendations read.”

PM Marape said today was an “important occasion” which PNG had been waiting for since 2014 and thanked everyone involved in the UBS COI culminating in report presentation.

He said his Government knew something was wrong when the Ombudsman Commission report into the UBS loan was released in 2019.

“It was clear that the transaction was not in order, in as far national interest was concerned,” PM Marape said.

“We could not have left the Ombudsman Commission report hanging in space – it needed attention and due care because the people of our country lost over US$300 million, a huge amount of money in kina terms.

“We felt that the best option was an independent and competent inquiry, of highest standards, which mobilised talent not only from our country but also international expertise to ensure that a detailed scrutiny of the entire transaction took place.

“The expertise put together by Sir Salamo is commendable, and based on those recommendations, we would act appropriately.”

Image caption: PM Marape (right) addressing the UBS COI today. At left is Chairman Sir Salamo Injia and Commissioner Margaret White.