29 Oct 2020

Bougainville leader rejects claims about his business dealings

10:42 am on 29 October 2020

The new President of Bougainville, Ishmael Toroama, has clarified a report in the Australian newspaper about his business dealings.

The paper asserted Mr Toroama, who has been in office in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region for a little over a month, is the major shareholder of a company called Bougainville Sustainable Timber Resources.

The Australian said the company is seeking investors and touting its 'political connections to the president's office.'

Stacked wood spruce and pine timber for construction buildings

Photo: 123RF

The paper reported the company saying "due to our political connections to the president's office in Bougainville wanting to fast-track the economic independence of Bougainville, we are in a unique position to discuss copper mining, oil and gas licenses, fisheries licenses and other lucrative market segments in Bougainville."

But Mr Toroama has put out a statement saying his past business dealings were done as a private citizen and his shares in the company are being divested to a third party.

He said Bougainville Sustainable Timber Resources Limited was set up with the aim of bringing foreign investors to Bougainville to be involved in sustainable logging as well as alluvial gold projects.

Mr Toroama said "the proposed business model to be employed by the company is straightforward; identify a development project on Bougainville, identify a credible investor, liaise with the Autonomous Bougainville Government and progress the project."

He said he wants to put to rest rumours he would entertain cronyism and business partners to create a monopoly over Bougainville's resources.

"That was a bad precedent by the past government and my Presidency will not be compromised by it. From the outset, no foreign investment in Bougainville will be done outside of the Bougainville Inward Investment Act 2014." he said