OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says the Prime Minister’s instructions to his Chief of Staff and the Attorney General to enter in an undertaking on the issue of Levers Solomon Ltd (LSL) is highly suspicious.
An OPMC statement confirmed that negotiations to acquire LSL have been sanctioned by the Prime Minister.
This was after a report in the Island Sun last week suggested that the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Robson Djokovic and the Attorney General John Muria Jnr are involved in a dubious deal in an attempt to commit the Government into bailing out two companies in Australia who were tied to Russell Islands Plantations Pty Ltd.
The OPMC statement further stated that the Government is yet to make a decision on whether to proceed with the deal and that Cabinet will be briefed on the options before a decision is made on which option to pursue.
The Opposition Leader said the OPMC’s revelation that the Prime Minister authorised the undertaking only adds to the string of questions surrounding the deal and its suspicious nature.
“The action by the Prime Minister is not only suspicious but also borders on being unconstitutional. A matter of importance as this should be brought to Cabinet by the ministries assigned with the relevant portfolios, and be dealt with by responsible authorities and not the political advisors in the PMO acting on the instructions of the Prime Minister,” he said.
Hon Wale said the Attorney General’s letter dated 9th February 2022 is also contradictory to the statement that Cabinet is yet to be briefed on the options before any decision will be made.
The AG’s letter to Steve Agosta Solicitor Director of the Nelson Mckinnon Lawyers in Sydney, requesting extension of time is an undertaking that SIG is committed to honour the Deed of Company Arrangement.
He said there is no reservation of the right to opt out as suggested.
The Opposition Leader said the explanation therefore does not add up and may cost the government unnecessarily if Cabinet so decides against the deal in the end.
Hon Wale said the letter also clearly outlined reasons for the delay in payment and that a given timeline in June 2022, after the Budget was opted.
“And if Cabinet is yet to decide on the faith of the proposed Deed/matter, then why is the AG already committing a financial obligation on behalf of the Government?” he said.
The Opposition Leader said if the Prime Minister advised the AG and his CoS to do so without Cabinet’s approval then surely parties involved are trying to defraud the Government.
He said document shows that the two companies the proposed Deed seek to bail out are currently facing bankruptcy proceedings.
“Since RIPPEL took over from Levers nothing much had been done. Operations had been stalled for various reasons including, pressure from domestic creditors since day one. So why would the government be interested in bailing out such companies? What have they contributed to the country and what does the DOCA say about liabilities, unpaid claims, land sales and so on,” he questioned.
The Opposition Leader adds the deal appears to undermine the forfeiture process commenced by the Commissioner of Lands.
He said clearly something is wrong with the operations of RIPPEL, which led to the Commissioner of Lands seeing the need to use the law.
“Is it not better to allow this process and the proceedings in Australia to be completed before the government steps in?” he said.
Hon Wale also questioned how this new deal sits in with the $50m compensation for Bloody Ridge Land awarded by the High Court against the government previously.
“Clearly there are too much public funds being waved around with respect to the RIPPEL land and operations. These are drains on the public purse that must be decided properly,” he said.
See full letter below:
– OPPOSITION PRESS