During the political horse-trading at Laguna in April 2019 controversial William Duma, as cunning as he is, convinced PM-elect Marape to appoint him Minister for Trade & Industry. He then demanded that NDB and MVIL be placed under his ministry.  Marape obliged and a ministerial determination was made to effect that change.

Duma is notorious for appointing cronies to positions of responsibility in State entities and then manipulating them for his own selfish gains.

Following his appointment Duma quickly moved to simultaneously appoint his tribesmen Michael Makap as CEO for MVIL and his first cousin Michael Mell has NDB Chairman. Both appointments were clear cases of cronyism and many people were appalled by the decisions.
Mell, in particular, did not possess the necessary boardroom and banking and financial sector qualifications and experience to be elevated to such an important role.  He has never managed a large, complex or successful organisation in his life.

The Marape government has placed a great deal of emphasis on taking back PNG by financially empowering PNGeans through NDB but this is unlikely to happen under Mell.  He is on course to loot and plunder NDB and destroy the government that appointed him. Here’s the evidence.

Demanded an office Space at NDB head office
Soon after his appointment Mell directed former MD Moses Liu to create an office space for him at NDB head office with a fulltime executive assistant and all the office equipment and privileges. He has demanded that his mobile phone charges, laptop and vehicle costs be met by DNB.
MD Liu reminded him that he was NOTa fulltime employee and is therefore not entitled to an office and that the expenses incurred to establish his office were unbudgeted.  Mell brushed aside these concerns.

Demanded a Party to celebrate his appointment
Mell soon after his appointment directed MD Liu to organise a huge party to celebrate his appointment which PM Marape, Minister Duma and other dignitaries could attend.  His desired venue was Stanley Hotel and the estimated costs were around K300,000.
Liu noted that the expenses were of a personal nature and NDB would not pay for the expenses.  Mell was very angry.

Demanded Directors’ Medical expenses be paid
Mell has directed his and another Director Robert Leo’s overseas medical expenses amounting to over K1m to be met by NDB.
MD Liu refused to settle the costs advising Mell that directors are not covered under the Staff Medical Insurance Scheme.  Eventually an unbudgeted and potentially illegal payment of K200,000 was made.

Promising Unapproved Benefits to Staff
Soon after his appointed Mell made an unprecedented and unplanned tour to all NDB branches in the country where he announced that Housing allowance and annual CPI adjustments would be paid to all staff effective immediately.

When MD Liu pointed out to Chairman Mell that he could not make and announce unilateral decisions affecting staff benefits without Board and executive management input and approval he accused MD Liu of insubordination, being counterproductive and threatened him with termination.

Lae Branch Construction Contract Manipulation

The Lae Project was publicly tendered and about to be awarded to Fletcher Morobe Construction Ltd before Mell came along.  When Mell saw the amount of money involved in the project he personally took charge of the project and re-tendered the project and sought bids from a closed group in a non-transparent manner.   Eventually, Mell awarded the contract of K13m to a company called Digara Limited and took a submission to KCH which was rejected under Minister Muthuvel.
With Duma now in charge of KCH as Minister it is feared that Mell would re-submit the Digara Limited contract.  Mell is believed to push for a commission from the contract.

Unceremoniou5s Termination of MD Liu
MD Liu has served NDB as CFO and MD for a decade.  He was in an acting capacity when Chairman Mell and Minister Duma decided that he should be terminated and sought NEC endorsement to carry it out.
He was served his notice of termination and asked to vacate his office hastily in an hour under police presence and duress.  He was not even given the opportunity to farewell staff he worked with and befriended in the organisation he served for a decade.
The harsh, oppressive and inhuman treatment of Liu was unwarranted.  The only reason Liu was treated in this manner was that he chose to uphold his integrity and reputation and not being dictated by a Chairman who seems to have an agenda to ransack NDB by breaking all processes and rules and treat NDB like his tucker shop.
NDB’s Bank’s Risk Officer, New Zealander David Aaron Underdown was appointed acting MD to replace Liu.

Mell Refers to relatives/cronies to NDB for loan Consideration
Mell has personally referred to several individuals and organisations to be considered for loan financing by NDB.
In one instance Mell personally brought in 5 potential SME customers from his home province and introduced them to Executive Manager Lending (EML).  EML organised inspection of their “existing businesses” in WHPa.  NDB’s Lending Dept declined the loan applications.  EML was ordered by Mell to explain to him the reasons for declining the loans and threatened to terminate him.

Termination of Executive Managers.
Following the termination of Liu the following Executive Managers were also terminated in December 2020.
1.  Executive Managing Lending – for declining loan applications of persons referred by Mell.
2. Chief Financial Officer -  for refusing to process payment for expenses of a personal nature requested by Mell.

Mell Micromanaging Staff
Mell since establishing an office at NDB head office and particularly after the departure of Liu has been acting like MD and giving instructions to both executive management and junior staff including drivers.
Staff study allowances and overtime have been stopped by Mell without any formal announcement of the reasons.
Mell has been seen engaged openly in heated arguments with certain managers and staff.  He’s even formally disciplined staff who he doesn’t like. Mell has a terrible demeanour and lacks management skills.  He simply does not understand his role.
Staff morale at NDB has never been lower.
Mell controls NDB’s Procurement Process
Mell has demanded that all procurement over K10,000 must be approved by himself.  He has now personally handpicked suppliers for Security, property maintenance, fuel, vehicle maintenance.  It is suspected that Mell is obtaining favours from the suppliers for selecting them
Resignation of Acting MD Aaron Underdown
Following the termination of the EML and CFO, Underdown has concluded that he could now longer work under the stressful conditions under Mell.  Underdone who was recently recruited as Risk Officer tendered his resignation on 29 December 2020.
Mell is not the man to drive the Marape government’s SME policy intent nor is he the man to lead NDB’s desire to become a commercial bank after the departure of Westpac and ANZ.  He has no clue of the separation of the Board and Management required for governance purposes  He has effectively dismantled NDB’s governance structure.

Mell must be immediately terminated or he will ruin the Bank in collaboration with his beloved cousin William Duma.


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