Former PNG prime minister questions UBS inquiry appointment

3:59 pm on 9 August 2019

Papua New Guinea's former Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has questioned the appointment of a former chief justice to chair an inquiry into the UBS loan.

Peter O'Neill

Peter O'Neill Photo: Supplied

Sir Salamo Injia, who recently retired, was yesterday named as the chair of the Commission of Inquiry into 2014's $US1.2 billion state loan from the Swiss bank UBS.

The loan was controversially used by the government to buy a stake in the resource company Oil Search.

An Ombudsman Commission report tabled in parliament in June suggested Mr O'Neill may have broken the law in taking out the loan.

The report also implicated current Prime Minister James Marape, who was finance minister at the time.

Mr O'Neill said establishment of the inquiry and its terms of reference was welcomed, and would put to rest much of the debate on the UBS deal.

But he has urged the government to re-consider its decision to appoint Sir Salamo given that he had presided over many cases for and against governments in the past.

According to Mr O'Neill, the former judge's lack of commercial experience in complex financial transactions could hinder the inquiry.

Meanwhile, Mr Marape, who commissioned the inquiry after coming to power in May, said he would not interfere in the inquiry.