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Singapore court serves PNG Government with court papers

The chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, Sir Mekere Morauta, said today the company has been informed by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs that court papers relating to the dispute between it and the O'Neill Government had been served on the State.

Under the rules of the Singapore Supreme Court, in which the case has been filed, the State has until February 17 to submit a response.

PNGSDP began the action in response to the State's expropriation, without compensation, of the Ok Tedi mine, and its attempts to take control of PNGSDP and the $US1.4 billion in the Long Term Fund.

The Singapore Supreme Court case seeks to protect PNGSDP's corporate integrity and to prevent the PNG Government and others from taking action in breach of Singapore laws, the Company's Articles and Memorandum of Association, and its governing Program Rules.

The Singapore action comes after letters from the PNG Prime Minister and Chief Secretary late last year purportedly terminating the Company's board, including Sir Mekere as chairman, removing the CEO, Mr David Sode, and appointing a "Transitional Management Team".

"PNGSDP has a legal and moral obligation to protect its assets and income so that it can continue to fulfil its mandate to provide social and economic development programs in the Western Province of PNG," Sir Mekere said.

"The Company is especially mindful of the need to protect the US$1.4 billion in its Long Term Fund. The legal action we are taking will ensure that the Company keeps control of the Long Term Fund so that it can be used wisely and effectively for the people of Western Province in the decades ahead."

The case in Singapore is in addition to the company's decision to seek international arbitration for the return of the mine or, failing that, full and fair compensation.

The request for arbitration has been formally accepted by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in the US. 

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