THE National Executive Council has “terminated” all the board directors of the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) in the latest twist to the tussle over Ok Tedi Mine Limited.
However, the sacking by the Government could be much more complicated as the PNGSDP is a Singapore-registered entity and there could be issues of jurisdiction, which could render obsolete the decision of the NEC, according to legal experts.
PNGSDP chairman Sir Mekere Morauta indicated in a statement yesterday that the company was taking legal action in the Singapore courts to stop the PNG Government from “appointing and removing directors, members and executives”. The involvement of an international arbitration was also on the drawcards.
“PNGSDP is taking legal action to protect itself by seeking an injunction in the Singapore courts,” Sir Mekere said.
“The injunction seeks to prevent the State from appointing and removing directors, members and executives, dealing in PNGSDP assets and passing board resolutions.
“This is in addition to a court case that is proceeding in the PNG courts to protect PNGSDP’s rights relating to Ok Tedi Mining Ltd dividends.
PNGSDP has also requested international arbitration on the State’s expropriation of its 63.4 per cent shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.
The company has filed a request for restitution of the shares with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes,” Sir Mekere said.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill wrote to Sir Mekere yesterday to advise him of the termination, referring the former politician to a section in the controversial Ok Tedi Mine legislation it passed recently which he said gave the NEC powers to remove the directors.
A copy of the letter dated October 24, 2013 addressed to Sir Mekere obtained by the Post-Courier highlighted section 6 of the Mining (Ok Tedi Tenth Supplemental Agreement) Act 2013 and advised of the appointment of “transitional management team” headed by the Chief Secretary.
“In accordance with section 6, on the 23 October 2013, National Executive Council approved the removal of all directors of PNGSDP and has now appointed the following transitional management: Chief Secretary (Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc Kt OBE), Secretary for Treasury (Mr Dairi Vele) and provincial administrator for Western Province (Dr Modowa Gumoi),” Mr O’Neill stated in his letter. “Thank you for your services.”
According to Sir Mekere, the PNGSDP has written to Mr O’Neill to advise him of the PNGSDP’s decision to request for international arbitration on the Government’s expropriation of its 64.3 per cent shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.