AUGUSTINE MANO PNG'S PREMIER CORPORATE CROOK


by 
MICHAEL J. PASSINGAN

In a significant setback for Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC), the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has dismissed the company's appeal to stop criminal investigations into its dealings with landowner funds held in the Pacific Balance Fund (PBF). The court ruled that MRDC's appeal was an "abuse of process" and ordered the company to pay costs of the proceedings.

MRDC, a unit holder in PBF, had taken legal action against the National Court's decision to dismiss its case, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter. However, the Supreme Court disagreed and held that MRDC's appeal was nothing more than an attempt to interfere with the police's criminal investigative process.

The court found that MRDC had no authority to conducted its own investigation into the activities of the Melanesian Trustee Services Limited (MTSL), the fund manager of PBF, and that its actions were in violation of the Trust Deed and the Securities Act. The court also noted that MRDC's managing director, Augustine Mano, had a vested interest in the case as he held 10.5 million shares in MRDC.

The police had launched investigations into MRDC's dealings with landowner funds after MTSL executive chairman, John Sanday, lodged a complaint in 2017. Sanday alleged that MRDC and a private consulting firm, Zenith Strata Services (ZSS), had conspired to remove MTSL as the interim fund manager and trustee of PBF.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court emphasized that MRDC's actions were in breach of the trust deed and Securities Act and that the company had no right to interfere with the rights, powers, or discretions of the trustee and interim fund manager in their dealings with the trust fund. The court also found that MRDC's conspiracy to unlawfully remove MTSL as the interim fund manager and trustee was illegal and had the potential to cause injury to the name, occupation, trade, or reputation of MTSL.

The court's decision is a significant victory for MTSL and the people of Papua New Guinea, who have been victims of elite corruption in the past. At the crux of the matter lies the integrity of financial transactions and the accountability of corporate entities entrusted with managing landowner funds. The Supreme Court's decision to dismiss MRDC's appeal and permit ongoing police investigations into its affairs marks a pivotal moment in Papua New Guinea's legal landscape.

This comprehensive analysis delves into the intricacies of the case, examines the implications of the court's ruling, and explores the broader implications for corporate governance and regulatory compliance in the country.

The genesis of the legal dispute can be traced back to MRDC's involvement as a unit holder in the PBF, a financial entity entrusted with managing landowner funds. Concerns arose regarding MRDC's actions in initiating an inquiry into the activities of the Melanesian Trustee Services Limited (MTSL), the fund manager for PBF. Allegations of impropriety and mismanagement prompted MRDC to engage Zenith Strata Services (ZSS) to conduct investigations.

However, questions soon emerged about the legitimacy of MRDC's actions. It became apparent that MRDC lacked the requisite authority, such as board resolutions, to independently undertake such investigations. Moreover, doubts were raised regarding the credibility of the investigations conducted by ZSS, particularly concerning whether they were sanctioned by the Securities Commission of PNG (SECOM), the regulatory authority overseeing PNG's Capital Market.

In response to these developments, MTSL filed an official complaint with the police fraud squad, triggering criminal investigations into MRDC's affairs. The allegations focused on potential breaches of trust and fiduciary responsibilities in managing landowner funds entrusted to the PBF. MRDC, however, sought to halt these investigations through legal means, leading to a protracted legal battle that eventually reached the Supreme Court.

MRDC's appeal to halt the criminal investigations was met with resistance from both the National Court and subsequently, the Supreme Court. The courts dismissed MRDC's appeal, describing it as an "abuse of process." They emphasized the importance of respecting legal procedures and avoiding undue interference with law enforcement processes. By ordering MRDC to cover the legal costs incurred, the Supreme Court underscored the judiciary's commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability within the corporate sector.

The court's decision carries significant implications for corporate governance and regulatory oversight in Papua New Guinea. It serves as a cautionary tale for corporations operating in the financial sector, highlighting the consequences of overstepping legal boundaries and attempting to obstruct regulatory scrutiny. Moreover, it reaffirms the authority of law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of misconduct and financial impropriety, sending a clear message that no entity is above the law.

The implications of the court's decision extend beyond the immediate legal dispute between MRDC and regulatory authorities. At its core, the ruling underscores the importance of transparency, accountability, and responsible governance practices in managing financial institutions. It serves as a reminder to corporations operating in Papua New Guinea's financial sector of the consequences of disregarding regulatory requirements and attempting to circumvent regulatory oversight.

Furthermore, the case highlights the challenges facing regulatory authorities in ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and safeguarding the interests of stakeholders, particularly landowners who rely on funds managed by corporations like MRDC for their livelihoods. By upholding the authority of law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of misconduct, the court reinforces public confidence in the integrity of the financial system.

In the broader context of corporate governance and regulatory compliance, the court's decision sets a precedent for accountability and transparency in Papua New Guinea's financial sector. It underscores the judiciary's role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability within the corporate sector. Moreover, it serves as a catalyst for reforms aimed at strengthening regulatory oversight and enhancing corporate governance standards to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the dismissal of MRDC's appeal represents a significant victory for regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies seeking to uphold the integrity of Papua New Guinea's financial system. It reaffirms the judiciary's commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability within the corporate sector. Moving forward, the case serves as a catalyst for reforms aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance in Papua New Guinea's financial sector, ultimately safeguarding the interests of stakeholders and promoting economic growth and development.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

PNG, VERY RICH YET STILL A VERY VERY POOR COUNTRY

PNG GOVERNMENT MINISTER IN PORN VIDEO

HIGHLANDS FRAUD F*CKS RUNNING GOVERNMENT AGENCY,,,

BLIND LEADING THE BLIND, WHY THE PNG ECONOMY STILL SUCKS

PNC CANDIDATE & FORMER NHC CEO FILMED WIFE HAVING SEX WITH COUSIN IN NHC CEO'S OFFICE

James Marape's Missteps Openly Exposed at Australian Forum