Former NDB Chairman steals K13 Million for elections 2022
Financially troubled state owned Bank, NDB, has announced the awarding of a K13m contract to build its Lae Branch. The contract was awarded to a Total Interiors Limited, a relatively unknown company owned by a Tommy Kara, a Western Highlander.
As the K13m contract to construct a small building has not been publicly tendered it is not known how the contractor was selected. NDB insiders have alleged that Total Interiors Ltd is a NDB customer that has recently defaulted in its loan repayments and has gone into arrears. It is also alleged that the company is engaged in property repairs and maintenance according to its company profile and lacks the financial capacity and construction experience to successfully carry out such a project. Renowned Morobe construction company. Lae Builders who submitted a bid for K8 million was overlooked for the contract.
Controversial NDB Chairman Michael Mell has allegedly been making frequent visits to Lae to meet the contractor prior to the announcement. Apparently, the owner of the Contractor, the NDB Chairman and the Minister for State Enterprises, Hon William Duma are all Western Highlanders.
NDB reported Net Losses of K23m in 2019 and K26m in 2020 according to its published financial statements. It also made a loss in 2021 which will be published shortly. The bank is obviously in financial strife and the rationale for the Board to commit the Bank to a large capital expenditure project is difficult to comprehend. It is also hard to understand how it will to continue operating as a Bank while make losses every year. Taxpayers might be required to rescue them again.
The contract announcement comes coincidentally with the resignation of politically appointed NDB Chairman Mell to contest the Mul Baiyer seat in the Western Highlands in the upcoming general elections. Following’s Mell’s departure Member for Hagen and State Enterprises Minister quickly appointed a Darrell Seeto as Chairman of NDB. Mr Seeto was reported by the Australian Financial Review as having conspired with Hon Duma to launder money to purchase a $1.5m Brisbane home from a Horizon Oil deal. Following the report, Duma successfully sued the AFR for defamation.
NDB has been plagued by management and accountability issues since the departure of the former Managing Director the late Moses Liu 3 years ago. NDB has since had 3 Acting MDs and does not have a permanent MD appointed yet. The bank is placed in a precarious position to drive Government’s Take Back PNG Agenda through the financial empowerment of SMEs and the Agriculture Sector when it is poorly managed and is being confronted with serious financial and leadership issues.
Prime Minister Hon James Marape must intervene immediately and resolve these serious issues that are paralysing the people’s bank. He must ensure that the contract to construct the Lae Branch was issued following due process and conducted in a transparent and accountable manner. The PM must also make necessary changes to the board and management teams to improve their capabilities, skills and integrity. The appointment of a competent and professional Chairman and Managing Director must be priority for the government.