Transaction wasn’t urgent: Kua

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FORMER Attorney-General Kerenga Kua told the Union Bank of Switzerland loan Commission of Inquiry (COI) that there was no urgency to bypass proper procedures in that 2014 transaction as suggested by many officials.
Officials had said the transaction, led by former prime minister Peter O’Neill, was rushed through so the Government could lay its hands on 10.1share in Oil Search.
However, Kua, the Sinasina-Yongomugl MP, shot that down yesterday, telling the inquiry that there was no urgency in the purchase.
Kua said, in a letter dated March 6, 2014, that acting secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele had sought approval from the Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB) for a certificate of inexpediency for the payment of the mentioned service providers.
“It was a private agreement between the state and Oil Search, they can always wait for the purposes of achieving commercial experiences,” he said.
“There was never any urgency at all.
“Where is that time pressure coming from?
“The people of this country were the biggest losers in the entire UBS transaction.
“K3.2 billion is a lot of money.”
Kua said section 209(1) of the Constitution was never complied with in the UBS transaction.
However, according to evidence by State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea in his earlier appearance, based on the instruction from the Department of Treasury, it was impractical for NEC to call parliament at that time. It made its decision due to the urgency of the matter.
Kua said local law firm Pacific Legal Group (PLG) and international law firm Norton Rose were never approved to be engaged as consultants to UBS transaction.
He said he was not aware that both firms were consultants engaged to provide services.
“Due to the urgency of the matter, various consultants were engaged to provide services without complying with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 1995,” Kua said.
“The following consultants were engaged outside of the normal PFMA process: PLG and Pacific Capital Ltd, locally-based consultants for a global sum of K9 million and international consultants, UBS Australia, Ashurst Lawyers Norton Rose and KPMG to a value of A$14,555,759 (about K37mil).”