So says the former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill

Nabil Anas

Global Courant

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said police charged him Monday with providing false evidence in an investigation into a multimillion-dollar government loss on an investment deal.

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O’Neill, who still serves as a legislator in the Pacific island nation’s parliament, denied the allegations, which stem from his time as head of government in 2014.

The O’Neill government obtained a loan of 1.3 billion Australian dollars ($878 million) through Swiss-based investment bank UBS to buy a 10.1% stake in Australian listed energy exploration company Oil Search Ltd .

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The government eventually sold its stake at a loss and an inquiry into the deal this year recommended charges against O’Neill for giving false testimony. The charge carries a possible prison sentence of 14 years.

O’Neill, who was replaced by current Prime Minister James Marape in 2019, said he was accused of giving false testimony to the UBS Commission of Inquiry on three occasions.

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“As far as I know… I have not misled the Commission of Inquiry. But we will test this in court,” O’Neill told reporters in the capital, Port Moresby.

“This is all part of the game they are playing to intimidate and harass me,” O’Neill added, referring to his political opponents.

Marape, who was finance minister in the O’Neill government when the shares were bought, said losses were more than AU$340 million ($230 million).

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Papua New Guinea police did not immediately confirm charges had been filed on Monday, but said a statement was being prepared.

But Police Commissioner David Manning said in a statement last weekend that detectives wanted to see O’Neill on Monday.

“Based on investigation of the UBS Board of Inquiry report, we are satisfied that Mr. Peter O’Neill gave false testimony under oath,” said Manning.

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So says the former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill

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