PNG Prime Minister officially takes on Horizon Oil

  • A saga of corruption and bribery allegations continue for Australian company, Horizon Oil
  • Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister, James Marape, has now publicly taken aim at the scandal — making the issue a priority
  • The scandal involves a AU$15.4 million transaction to a small shell company, reportedly linked to former PNG Petroleum and Energy Minister, William Duma
  • Duma continues to work in the PNG Government and James Marape has denied calls for an immediate sacking
  • Marape and Duma are expected to make a formal statement on the scandal
  • Shares in Horizon Oil continue to devalue on the Australian market, falling 3.61 per cent on Tuesday for a worth of eight cents each

Fraser Palamara | The Market Herald | 19 February 2020

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), James Marape, has publicly taken aim at Australian company Horizon Oil (HZN).

The pacific island leader is backing an investigation into the Australian explorer — spiralling from reports of ‘missed corruption warnings’ and a suspicious multi-million-dollar payment.

News of the saga first reached headlines earlier this month, including allegations of bribery.

Now the investigation has reached all the way to the top order of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape.

“If there is corruption involved, then find the evidence and due action will take its course,” James Marape said publicly on Tuesday.

“I have sent a request to the highest levels in Australia. I am interested in this matter.”

“The Ombudsman and the police have every right to establish a file on this matter.”

Marape was elected as Prime Minister last year, running a campaign on promises to clean up corruption and hold foreign companies more accountable. He has commented that domestic investigations into Horizon Oil could begin.

The Horizon Oil allegations of corruption spawn from a payment made in 2011, following a denied petroleum licence application in 2009.

Horizon Oil then made a AU$15.4 million payment to an ‘unknown shell company’ — reportedly linked to PNG’s Minister for Petroleum and Energy at the time, William Duma.

Duma’s department was shown in documents to award a 10 per cent stake in a development licence to the same shell company. This company was listed in ownership under Duma’s personal lawyer at the time.

William Duma still works within the PNG Government, but Prime Minister Marape has denied calls for an immediate sacking.

However, Horizon Oil’s Chief Executive Michael Sheridan has faced fallout — being suspended as of last week.

Share prices in the publicly traded Australian explorer also fell 30.8 per cent at the time, lowering to a valuation of 8.3 cents each.

James Marape said on Tuesday that he and William Duma will make a formal statement on the matter in the very near future.

Shares in Horizon Oil continue to shrink, lowering an additional 3.61 per cent on Tuesday. They last closed at eight cents each.

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Filed under Corruption, Papua New Guinea

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