PNG loan probe may want Australian info

PNG leader James Marape says its probe into a controversial loan may request info from Australia.
PNG leader James Marape says its probe into a controversial loan may request info from Australia.

Papua New Guinea would welcome any information it can get from Australia on a controversial loan it received from Swiss bank UBS.

The Australian arm of the bank loaned the PNG government $A1.2 billion to buy a 10 per cent stake in the ASX-listed firm Oil Search in 2014, which it used to buy into the Elk Antelope gas field being developed by France's Total.

A report by the Ombudsman Commission of PNG, leaked in May ahead of former PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill's resignation, was highly critical of the 2014 deal and its lack of returns for locals.

PNG, under its new leader James Marape, is setting up a new inquiry to look at the deal more broadly.

He says the probe may reach out to Australian regulators for information.

"We have instrumentalities of government to have those exchanges going on, so when the need be, those requests will be funnelled through in the correct procedure and protocols," Mr Marape told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"We would very much welcome any information that can be obtained ... from within Australia to assist in coming to the fullest conclusions as to what has transpired in the now infamous UBS saga or UBS transaction."

Both Mr O'Neill and Mr Marape, who was finance minister at the time, were among a group of leaders the Ombudsman Commission report implicated in "wrong and erroneous" actions linked to the loan.

Mr Marape's comments came after he met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Parliament House as part of a six-day visit to Australia.

Australian Associated Press