Supreme Court dismisses OC’s appeal

National
Source:
The National, Wednesday July 20th, 2016

 By CHARLES MOI 
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by the Ombudsman Commission which relates to investigations against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on the K3 billion loan acquired from UBS.
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia dismissed the appeal in Waigani last Thursday because no formal documents were filed in court by the Ombudsman Commission.
Sir Salamo found that the registry issued a file reference for the case when the Ombudsman Commission did not file any court documents.
The Commission is at liberty to re-file their appeal under section 155 (2) of the Constitution.
The appeal by the Commission stems from a decision delivered by Justice Catherine Davani in the National Court on Jan 28 last year.
In that case, Davani restrained the Ombudsman Commission from investigating O’Neill on the loan dealings until the Supreme Court has determined 11 constitutional questions.
The Constitutional questions relate to whether O’Neill comes under the definition of Section 214 (1) (a) of the Constitution and section 13 of the Organic Law on the Ombudsman Commission.
The Ombudsman Commission relied on this provision to investigate O’Neill.
Some of the constitutional questions the Supreme Court will determine are;

  • Whether on the proper interpretation or application of section 219 (1) (a) of the Constitution, the Prime Minister does not come within the description of any “member”, “officer” “employee”, or “person”.
  • Whether on the proper interpretation or application of Section 13 of the Organic Law on the Ombudsman Commission, the Prime Minister does not come within the description of “member”, “officer” “employee” or “person”.

The constitutional questions are still pending before the Supreme Court.
Evidence put to the court last Jan by O’Neill’s lawyer Mal Varitamos, QC, showed that O’Neill had received a letter from the Ombudsman Commission on Dec 8, 2014 which advised amongst others the release of “Provisional Report” which is over 200 pages.
O’Neill in an affidavit states that the report contains comments which are adverse and derogatory.
O’Neill states if the report is further distributed, it will adversely and prejudicially impact his reputation and standing as Prime Minister and cause irreparable damage.
The originating summons by O’Neill filed in the National Court seeks; a declaration on the proper interpretation or application of under section 219 (1) (a) of the Constitution and Section 13 of the Organic Law on the Ombudsman Commission that the Ombudsman Commission lacks jurisdiction to investigate any conduct of O’Neill into alleged improper borrowing of K3 billion loan from UBS and improper tendering and procurement of consultants.
The NEC on March 6, 2014 approved the borrowing of K3 billion from UBS to obtain a 10.01 per cent interest in Oil Search Limited.