By BOURA GORUKILA
PRIME Minister James Marape, the finance minister in the O’Neill government in 2014, signed the memorandum of approvals for National Petroleum Company of PNG (NPCP) Kroton, now Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd, to enter into the transaction documents with a banking syndicate, a Commission of Inquiry (COI) heard yesterday.
That enabled a syndicated (Bank South Pacific, Westpac and ANZ Bank) letter of credit facility to secure the release of US$294mil (about K1bil) of NPCP Kroton PNG LNG project revenue prior to project completion to raise a US$191mil (about K655mil) term loan from BSP to fund payment of a special dividend to the state from NPCP Kroton’s early LNG revenues, according to Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) corporate secretary and chief legal officer from 2012 to 2017 Erastus Kamburi.
He told the UBS inquiry that IPBC recommended that Marape executed the memorandum of approvals under section 46B(2) of the Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) Act to grant approval for NPCP to enter into the transaction documents to refinance the UBS collar loan and bridge loan facilities.
“On Nov 16, 2015, I was verbally directed by the then-managing director to give complete access to all documents and files that IPBC had relating to the UBS loan transaction to John Beattie, of Pacific Legal Group,” he said.
“I was not told of the reasons for such a direction. The documents were sent to Beattie.”
He also told the inquiry that prior to that, the chairman and director of IPBC received an urgent email from then acting secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele on March 8, 2014, requesting that the IPBC board meet urgently to consider the approvals for NPCP to proceed with the loan transaction.
“Given the urgency of the matter, IPBC management prepared an urgent circular resolution.”
When asked why the urgency at the time, Kamburi said he was not given any reason but was instructed to expedite the requests. He will appear again on Tuesday.
By BOURA GORUKILA