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BOARD CHAIRMAN OF TELIKOM PNG LTD MAHESH PATEL IS A FRAUDSTER


Outlined below are some of the most serious allegations that warrant the immediate termination of Mahesh Patel and appointment of a new Board chairman to take charge of the SOE. We will provide evidence once an internal investigation is set up.

SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MAHESH PATEL.(Evidence Available)

1.    2012- VES (voluntary exit scheme). Mahesh Patel, being chairman of HR Sub- Committee went ahead and implemented the VES under the pretext of Government Reforms. The exercise was poorly planned and executed, which resulted in the termination of employment of approximately 500 qualified technical staff, engineers and support staff from their employment. As a result a skills gap was created, Telikom never recovered and recorded consecutive loss in revenue and never declared profit and paid dividends to the state up till 2017. The affected staff under VES in 2012 took Telikom PNG to court seeking damages to be awarded to them. In 2017, a three men Supreme Court Bench upheld the National Court Decision of 2015 and awarded damages to the tune of K14m and slapped that onto Telikom PNG Ltd. That damage claim bill was submitted to Telikom Management a couple of weeks ago and is pending settlement. This came about because of Mahesh Patel’s cunning tactics deployed in Telikom PNG. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for creating this situation that brought unnecessary liabilities to Telikom PNG Ltd.

2.    2015 Telikom’s Acquisition of EMTV for K27m- the PNGCWU including the Executive Management of TPNG understands beyond reasonable doubt that it was a poor investment decision because EMTV was not a profitable and viable business at that time. The board under Mahesh Patel decided to buy EMTV for K27m. No proper due diligence checks were done to establish its profitability prior to its acquisition. To date, EMTV is not making revenue to contribute to Telikom’s consolidated revenue. Instead, Mahesh Patel directed TPNG Management to pay EMTV K500, 000.00 every fortnight for staff salaries and K100, 000.00 every month to pay for EMTV’s operating costs. EMTV is a sick and lame cow that was a liability to its previous owner, a Fijian owner. Since Patel is a Fijian Indian, he collaborated with the then owner to offload that liability to Telikom PNG and pay a handsome price for it. Mahesh Patel should be Held responsible for this stupid business decision.

3.    2015-Controversial Spill & Fill Redundancy Exercise introduced in Telikom PNG by Mahesh Patel and CEO Michael Donnelley. After the successful elimination of qualified PNG nationals who applied for position of CEO, Mahesh Patel hops onto a plane to Australia to recruit a retired public servant known as Michael Donnelley and gave him the job as CEO of TPNG. They both arrive back in PNG with cargo especially tailored for Telikom PNG called Spill and Fill.
Little did Papua New Guineans in Telikom PNG know that the cargo, once unpacked will spell calamity for them. Yes, the Spill and Fill redundancy exercise literally unknown in PNG was unveiled in Telikom PNG in 2015, which pushed a further 300 employees out of their jobs and were unceremoniously dumped onto the streets across Papua New Guinea. The PNGCWU took Telikom PNG to court on behalf of its affected members and staffs following this illegal exercise which is against the provisions of the PNG Labour Laws and the Enterprise Based Award 2010. As a result, another massive court decision is looming for Telikom PNG to be slapped with further costs to be awarded to the affected staff under spill & fill. That court decision is due to be handed down anytime soon. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for the decision that will further eat into Telikom PNG’s finances.

4.    2015- K1.5m Fibre Optic Transmission link from Gerehu Telephone Exchange to City Pharmacy Head Office, Gerehu Stage 6. Mahesh Patel as Board Chairman individually gave verbal instructions for Telikom PNG Ltd to run a Fibre Optic cable for an internet super highway specifically for CPL Head Quarters from the Gerehu Telephone Exchange direct to CPL Head Office, located at Gerehu Stage 6. An approximate distance of 4 kilometres. This is a very expensive project just to suit one business house. For such Capital Expenditure Projects, normally it would be a shared cost arrangement where TPNG and the Customer would agree to meet costs associated with the project. In this case, CPL never met part of the cost. All costs were passed to Telikom PNG Ltd. There was no proper business case done on Return on Investment to see if it was a profitable investment for Telikom to venture into. It is understood that TPNG may have failed to recover the cost after the CPL Head Quarter was burnt down in June this year. The cost may never be recovered. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for this stupid business decision.

5.    December 2015- Sale of former Telikom Business Office and Telephone Exchange located at Central Business District, Boroko, NCD. Customers and staff were caught off guard when they turned up to find the Business Office fenced off and access denied by new owner. This was the scenario in November of 2015. As a result, the Business Office was relocated from the Central Business District at Boroko to 4mile Operations Centre, which is not an ideal location for a Sales Office too be stationed. During the transition, TPNG lost revenue because there was no awareness done. It is believed that the whole building was sold to a Chinese Businessman for a depleted price, well below the market price for properties located in prime areas such as Boroko. Mahesh Patel, through former Telikom Properties Manager, Mr. Steven Morodu may have collaborated on the price fixing for the building to be sold. As a result of that sale, Mahesh Patel was implicated, he then turned around and ordered the termination of Steven Morodu to save himself. Mahesh Patel is very good at this too. He can use other people to get what he wants and dump them. Telikom lost good revenue from this dubious sale of its prestigious property, all because of Mahesh Patel’s greed. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for this stupid business decision.

6.    2017- K60m undeclared profit by Telikom PNG Ltd. News was published in the mainstream media, National Newspaper, dated 6th February 2017 page 25, by Mahesh Patel that Telikom declared a profit of K20m for the 2016 financial year. The PNGCWU and the Telikom Management were taken by surprise by this sudden declaration of profit by Mahesh Patel. This is an unaudited profit declaration. If true, then Telikom PNG Ltd staff should be paid 3% CPI across the board as per Enterprise Based Award 2010. Staff denied receiving any such payments following this declaration. Telikom PNG Management and Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd have confirmed that TPNG has not made any profits during that year. It is also not known if Mahesh Patel declared an after tax profit of K20m. All we know is that, this K20m is bogus undeclared dividend payment. This money was drawn from either; the cash savings from Telikom staff prematurely retrenched through the illegal Spill and Fill exercise carried out in 2015 or from unused capital works/project funds. The withdrawal of funds was most probably charged to the Government Capital Grants Accounts or the Owner’s Equity Account. No dividend was paid to KCH after the declaration to date.
In years prior to 2012, TPNG was managed by PNG National Boards and managements and declared profits and paid dividends to the state. SOEs like PNG Ports, Post PNG, NFA and others managed and run by PNG National have declared profits in recent times, Telikom PNG has failed miserably to declare any profit under Mahesh Patel. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for Telikom’s failure to declare profits.

7.    2016- MAHESH PATEL IN TOTAL DEFIANCE OF NEC DECISION# 360/2016. Among other provisions contained in the NEC Decision # 360/2016 signed by Prime Minister Mr Peter O’Neil and recommended by Mr. William Duma as Minister for State Enterprises and Public Investment, Mr. Moses Tedumo was appointed as Acting CEO for Telikom PNG. This did not go down well with Chairman Mahesh Patel. Around that time, Mr. Duma was sidelined as Minister pending investigations into the Manumanu Land Deal and Charles Abel was appointed Acting Minister. Mahesh Patel rushed down to Mr. Abel for a new NEC Decision# 44/2017 to be quickly formulated and signed, which removed Moses Tedumo as A/CEO, appointed John Mangos, Andrew Johnson and other controversial figure to the Telikom Board. Former CEO and close ally of Patel, Michael Donnelly was reinstated to continue as A/CEO.  Mahesh Patel is the mastermind of defiance to NEC Decisions. We call on all good thinking Papua New Guineans to see this man, Mahesh Patel as a threat to our National Security, because of his defiance to lawful direction from the heads of our government. Mahesh Patel does not respect our Prime Minister and Ministers who are our policy and important decision makers. This is a serious breach of NEC decisions, an in any Commonwealth country, this warrants immediate termination and deportation out of PNG on the next available flight to Fiji. We should not tolerate this culprit to continue to this on our home soil. Surely, his relationship with the current State Enterprise and Public Investment Minister, Hon. William Duma is in troubled waters because of the contradictory actions taken by Mahesh Patel. Mahesh Patel is treating Telikom PNG as his own private business and thinks he can appoint anyone at will so he can manipulate decisions to suit his own greedy desires. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for insubordination to lawful directions from PM O’Neil and Minister Mr. Duma.

8.    2017 -Telikom 4G Data Bundles Price Fixing Scandal- In April of 2017, Mahesh Patel sent a damning email directly to staff of Telikom Products and Tariffs Division, directing them to provide confidential information on TPNG’s pricing on internet and voice bundles to him. Again, he has bypassed all proper protocols and chain of command in Telikom PNG. First of all, Mahesh Patel is not the right person to request confidential information to be made available to him. Secondly, Mahesh showed no regard and respect for the CEO and Executive Management by his ill- conceived actions. He then proceeded to issue verbal directives to staff to do new tariffs  that  were  geared  towards  a  term  called  “Market  Allowance”,  where competitors like Bemobile and Digicel were to be given exclusive rights to sell data bundles up to 499MB, while TPNG was to sell data bundles from 500MB and upwards. In simple logic, who in PNG is willing to spend K30.00 every day for internet costs? Well, according to Mahesh Patel, whether you like it or not, that’s it. This decision would mean big time revenue loss for Telikom PNG and shift in customer base. The PNGCWU, its members, Staff and Executive Management of TPNG reacted strongly against his verbal directions to increase rates unnecessarily. In retaliation, Mahesh Patel prevented Telikom PNG from fully launch its 4G mobile network across the country, and is affecting revenue as we speak. Mahesh Patel continues to treat Telikom PNG as his private business and should be held responsible for loss of customers and revenue in the mobile market for Telikom PNG Ltd.

9.    1st September, 2017- TPNG Writes Off Bemobile Bill of K43, 162, 896.56. Mahesh Patel issues verbal directives to Telikom Billing & Finance Division to write off a Bill of K43, 162, 896.56 that Bemobile owes to Telikom for co-siting arrangements and use of other utilities. No Board decision was made and minuted to give rise to Mahesh Patel’s decision to free Bemobile of its bills. Telikom took a great plunge in its revenue coffers just because Mahesh Patel and someone in Bemobile collaborated to waive this huge bill. We are reliably informed that there was celebration at the Bemobile office after news of the write off was received. Remember, Bemobile is also managed by Fiji Indians, and there is sufficient evidence to say that these Indians collaborated with Patel to rob Telikom of its hard earned revenue. Telikom PNG will continue to suffer in the hands of Mahesh Patel if he continues as Chairman. Mahesh Patel should be held responsible for writing off this huge bill that resulted in Telikom loosing revenue.

Conclusion
In May 2014, All SOE Chairman’s and CEOs signed a Good Governance Code of Conduct (Leadership Code of Ethics) to carry out their duties to the best of their ability to serve the government and people of PNG for service delivery in their respective roles. Mahesh Patel was a signatory to this good governance creed. However, his actions right after the signing of this creed up till today leaves a lot to be desired from this man. His continuous defiance to ministerial directives, insubordination, being disrespectful to PNG national Managers, silly business decisions, write off of huge bills, suspicious sale of Telikom assets and so forth are worrying signs that Telikom PNG will continue to loose revenue.

Continuous loss of revenue under Mahesh Patel will give very good reason to declare Telikom PNG as insolvent. All Papua New Guineans must strongly condemn this man’s action. TPNG is a national SOE and a foreigner like Patel is not the fit and proper person to be chairman.

PNGCWU is closely monitoring every move this man does and we will make sure the laws of PNG will catch up with him and give him very good reason to spend part of his life behind bars at Bomana.

Recommendation
1.    It is for the Minister to take these serious allegations against the Chairman of Telikom PNG and immediately terminate his services, institute an internal investigation into all the allegations that we have labelled against Mr. Patel.
2.    Immediately appoint a new National Board Chairman for Telikom PNG Ltd.

-PNGCWU