Wednesday, 3 March 2010 7:18 PM

bemobile in SI 'scandal'

The website www.postcourier.com.pg/20100303/wehome.htm carried a story titled 'bemobile in SI 'scandal' by JONATHAN TANNOS

It revealed that a minor shareholder of bemobile used $US15 million (K44 million) from the company to pay for a mobile licence in the Solomon Islands without board approval, and this was was revealed in PNG Parliament yesterday (02.03.09).

The Opposition Leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, named GEMS Limited as responsible for the scandal when he raised a series of questions to State Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare, on what he intended to do about scandal.

Sir Mekere said GEMS which holds 35 per cent in the company is also the manager of bemobile which is the main shareholder with 50 per cent.

Bemobile is partly owned by Telikom PNG and its other shareholders include PNGSDP, Nambawan Supa, and Nasfund with five per cent each.

In response to Sir Mekere, minister Somare, said he had no knowledge about it and would investigate the matter. "Are you aware that GEMS Limited has unilaterally used $US15 million of bemobile funds to pay for a Solomon Islands mobile licence," Sir Mekere asked."These funds had been contributed by bemobile shareholders to fund a specific capital works program for bemobile in Papua New Guinea.

"The $US15 million was paid without the knowledge or authorisation of the board of bemobile or the other shareholders."

Sir Mekere asked what action Telikom was going to take as majority shareholder and if GEMS was going to be removed as manager of bemobile. He also asked if the money was recoverable given that it was paid without proper authorisation.
"What now is the fate of the planned capital works program for bemobile in PNG, given that $US15 million of money contributed by shareholders has been paid to the Solomon Islands," he asked."Who will now fund bemobile's capital works program, given that other shareholders will be wary of putting money in the way of GEMS, the managers.

"If bemobile does not have sufficient capital to fund the upgrade and expansion of infrastructure in PNG, how will it fund the roll-out of the capital works program required to establish a mobile network in Solomon Islands."

The future of bemobile in SI is now looks dull. Since the money used for the mobile license was not approved by the responsible Board it seems that the decsion will be to recover the money. And if this happens, the bemobile will simply ship out from the shores of SI.

One thing I belive is, responsible authorities might have chosen a wrong investor.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Charles Koroni and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

Other Letters to the Editor All Letters
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province
By JAQUE FRIEDMAN New Zealand