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Horizon Oil Investigation Finds Nil evidence of bribery involving PNG Govt Minister Duma

Horizon Oil Limited has concluded an independent investigation into allegations of a bribery scandal involving a very senior state minister in the Marape-Steven cabinet. The Australia Financial Review on 10thFeburary 2020 published series of allegations against Commerce and Industry Minister and Hagen Open MP William Duma who was back in 2011 the Petroleum and Energy Minister for accepting bribe in awarding of a Petroleum Retention Licence to a PNG owned Oil Company Elevala Energy. The findings into the transaction confirm that there was no breach of foreign bribery law. In a statement released by the Horizon Oil Ltd on Tuesday 9th June it was revealed that the investigation which includes a forensic review of all aspects of transaction conducted by Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Deloitte with the oversight of an Independent Board Committee (IBC) confirms that no breach of any Australia foreign bribery law has been established. Horizon also confirmed in the statement that it was no aware of any regulatory investigation into these matters involving the company in Australia or Papua New Guinea. According to the statement, the 2011 transaction was undertaken to advance Horizon’s legitimate business interest in PNG and the structure of the transaction and quantum of purchase paid by Horizon was consistent with market practice comparable to other relevant transactions at the same time. It states that no payments were made in excess of the agreed purchase price and Horizon has no knowledge of any subsequent transfer or transactions made by the counterparties after the purchase price was paid. Given the seriousness of the allegations first made in the Australia Financial Review and the severe adverse market impact to Horizon’s shareholders resulting from the article and the transactions with Elevala Energy which occurred more than 8 years ago has prompt the Horizon Board to take a decisive action to initiate an immediate and in-depth investigation into this transaction. The investigation was to examine whether the Company’s action in respect of the 2011 transaction breached Australia‘s foreign bribery law. Horizon Chairman Mike Harding said in the statement that the investigation conducted by the two highly reputable firms has now concluded. “No breach of Australia foreign bribery laws has been established. We recognised recognise and regret the impact of these allegations. The disclosure and publication of company information without seeking to fully understand the facts around a transaction occurring more than 8 years ago has caused significance loss to shareholders and cost to the Company. The investigation provides the necessary closure in relation to these allegations and after a challenging few months, we are now focused on the process of regaining the confidence of our stakeholder, so that we can move forward with confidence and deliver on our corporate growth objectives,” Mr Harding said. Minister Duma welcomed the conclusion of this investigation and said this has now confirmed what he has been saying all this time. Meanwhile, the legal proceeding into the defamatory lawsuit filed by Minister Duma against Angus Grigg and Jemima Whyte of the Australian Financial Review and the Australian Financial Review is still continuing in the Sydney Federal Court of Australia. The Sunday Bulletin / Pacific Mining watch next : Changes to PNG Resources Laws to protect National Interest, says PM Marape
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