Header Ads

PNG and Australian investigators uncover plot by O'Niell to setup LR Group with far reaching powers, this includes, Banking, IRC, IPA and National Security and IPBC

LR Group of Israel, the company closely linked to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, as outlined in previous PNG Blogs posts, has a colourful history of gun-running and money movements to finance its arms operations. It’s fledgling operations in PNG appear to mirror its long-running operations in Africa, notably Angola.

An international NGO Human Rights Watch says a subsidiary, LR Avionics Technologies, was behind an illegal gun-running operation to Angola in 2001, at a time when the country was embroiled in a murderous civil war. LR Group undeniably supplied weapons and other military equipment to Angola, and provided military advisors, training and other support, to the corrupt Government. LR Group’s gun-running operations were conducted while there were a number of United Nations sanctions and embargoes in place.

Although most of its clandestine arms shipments went undetected, one has been documented in detail when the company’s usually meticulous military-style planning failed. In a 2001 gun-running  incident, a plane carrying anti-tank rockets and other military equipment landed at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia, where the munitions were to be transhipped to a second plane bound for Angola. In a  2004 report, RIPE FOR REFORM, Human Rights Watch reported that “the plane was freighted for carrying the cargo by (the) company LR Avionics Technologies Ltd. It was LR Avionics Technologies Ltd who made the transportation arrangements for the cargo.”

The rockets were seized at Bratislava Airport, but the plane continued on its journey to Angola with other military equipment, according to Human Rights Watch. Other sources indicate that the plane landed at an Israeli military airport, with the blessing of the Israeli Government, and picked up more equipment bound for the Defence Forces of Angola. During a fuel stop in Tanzania, Government officials discovered undeclared weapons on board the plane, but the flight was allowed to continue.

The authoritative Israeli web site of the daily newspaper Haaretz  refers to LR Group as having sold weapons and other defence equipment to Angola including radar, unmanned aircraft and helicopters. Haaretz says the company also provided training and secret support, such as mapping services, aerial photography and satellite images. LR Group has also allegedly recruited former Israeli military members to work for the Angolan Navy and Air Force. Today LR Group , in addition to its other extensive commercial interests, has become a private army in Angola, according to news reports, with contracts to stop illegal immigrants from the Congo entering the country. It  has also been used to suppress workers’ unions.

The evidence uncovered by Human Rights Watch and others bears an uncanny resemblance to the events leading up to PNG’s Sandline crisis in 1996-97. LR Group has very close links to the Israeli military and intelligence system and is increasingly spreading its tentacles throughout the O’Neill Government. LR Group’s campaign, as detailed in a previous PNG Blogs posting, is spearheaded by Dr Jakob Weiss, a close confidant of and advisor to Prime Minister O’Neill.

Dr Weiss is the Israeli consul-general in Papua New Guinea, as well as being a long-time advisor to the Bank of Papua New Guinea and Team Leader of the Prime Minister’s Task Force in his takeover of the Ok Tedi mine. Dr Weiss is father of LR Group’s senior PNG representative Ilan Weiss. It is through Dr Weiss that LR Group wields significant influence over the Prime Minister and the central bank, and he is the major avenue through which the group is increasing its power and activities at the highest levels of the Government.

However its methods of doing as are highly questionable and as a result the company is one focus of an extensive PNG and international investigation into money-laundering which grew out of the original Parakagate scandal. These investigations, as shown by PNG Blogs, have extended directly into the Office of the Prime Minister, the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the Fly River Provincial Government, PNG Power Ltd, the Department of Treasury and other Government institutions.

LR Group was the prime player in the Prime Minister’s illegal purchase of the two mobile diesel-powered generators for PNG Power Ltd. This deal, in which millions of kina are being spent buying fuel, was the final straw that led to the financial collapse of PPL - and now the Prime Minister is pushing to reward LR Group by allowing it to purchase PPL. The illegal PPL deal resulted in a net benefit to LR Group of at least K10 million because of the way it was financed on the instructions of the Prime Minister, and the whole transaction is now being analysed. LR Group is also involved in other NEC-approved contracts, and contracts with the Western Provincial Government.

PNG investigative sources also believe Dr Weiss may have played a critical secret role in the UBS scandal, for which the Prime Minister has been recommended for a Leadership Tribunal by the Ombudsman Commission. Other investigations into this illegal deal for the State to buy shares in Oil Search Ltd are being carried out.

But it is in  the area of national security that LR Group is making its biggest push. Dr Weiss is not only Israel’s Consul-General in PNG, Prime Ministerial and central bank advisor, OTML Board Member and father of LR Group’s Ilan Weiss -  he is himself a former Israeli military officer.  And LR Group was set up and is run by three former Israeli air force officers, Roy Ben-Yami, Eytan Stibbe and Ami Lustig.

It is believed that the group is trying to extend its tentacles into PNG’s national intelligence system, including the Defence Force, the police and the National Intelligence Organisation. through the lobbying of Dr Weiss. Recently 15 soldiers and policemen and NIO officials went to Israel for specialist training, departing PNG under Mr Weiss’ watchful eyes. Prominent among them was the head of NIO, former chief police commissioner Garry Baki.

This follows a Joint Declaration signed between Mr O’Neill and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Nethanyahu, during Prime Minister O’Neill’s 2013 trip to Israel. Mr Weiss personally accompanied the Prime Minister on the trip.
Among other issues covered in the Israel meetings, Mr O’Neill said PNG had a lot to learn from the Israel experience and therefore sought assistance in the areas of defence, security and intelligence, national youth service, information technology and communications. Mr Netanyahu, following Mr O’Neill’s request, said Israel had long and established capabilities in these areas and willingly offered to deploy an inter-departmental delegation from Israel to PNG to discuss these matters and offer the relevant assistance specifically for defence, security and intelligence training and capacity building. There are persistent rumours that during his trip to Israel last year, hosted by Dr Weiss, the Prime Minister arranged a secret arms and support deal worth approximately $US500 million - this is said to be the springboard from which LR Group takes control of the national intelligence system. An unknown number of Israeli specialists are already in PNG laying the groundwork for control of the national security system.

PNG and Australian sources confirm that Prime Minister O’Neill has already told Australia to remove the Australian Federal Police operating in PNG - this would open the door to LR Group and the Israelis, all as part of a plan by the Prime Minister to set up a secret service at the top of the national intelligence tree - run by the Israelis. The Israelis, including specialist LR Group staff, would have access to all national intelligence including the Defence Force, NIO and the police. Communications monitoring equipment and expertise are covered under the deal signed between the two Prime Ministers last year.

Sources say the Israelis would also have access to the banking system, including private banks and the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the Investment Promotion Authority and the Internal Revenue Commission. High on their list of priorities is to control social media as quickly as possible and silence opponents of the Prime Minister, as well as monitoring NGOs,unions, politicians and business figures known to be opposed to the Prime Minister. They would report direct to the Prime Minister.

Australian sources  say LR group’s operations in PNG appear to mirror those being used in Angola. They say LR Group  is used as a cover in Africa by Israeli “non-commercial operatives”. It is also used as a cover for cash movements and possibly arms. Dr Weiss’ son Ilan lives in Mosman, a well-to-do suburb of Sydney. The Australian sources say it too is well-known as a cover for “non-commercial operatives” in Australia and possibly PNG.