Falcongate: Basil speaks out

NATIONAL Planning and Monitoring Minister Sam Basil – who was also on board the Falcon passenger jet with Malaysian oil palm investors during the recent controversy referred to as “Falcongate” – has denied money laundering claims.
Falcongate: Basil speaks out Falcongate: Basil speaks out Falcongate: Basil speaks out Falcongate: Basil speaks out Falcongate: Basil speaks out

This follows a recent "categorical" denial by Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, who was on board the Falcon when it was intercepted by Indonesian military jets over Indonesian air space on November 29.

Namah has ridiculed claims the Falcon - which is traditionally deployed for diplomatic use by PNG government ministers and officials - could possibly fit $US250 million of cash on board.

In a statement, Basil said the money laundering claims were a red herring.

"I am urging Papua New Guineans not to be swayed by malicious and untrue suggestions that the Falcon jet was carrying $US250 million," Basil said.

"I was there because the trip offered insights into oil palm project management which is useful in the light of the Tekadu oil palm project in my Bulolo electorate as well as the Markham Valley oil palm project in Morobe generally - not to mention that as National Planning and Monitoring Minister I would sooner or later have to deal with oil palm-related issues.

"As a commercial chartered aircraft, all of us were subject to the rigorous checks required under customs, immigration and civil aviation laws of the various countries where we landed.

"That includes declaration if any one of us was carrying more than the equivalent of K10,000 in cash which we all complied with."

The Indonesian government has officially blamed the interception of the Falcon on lacking flight schedule approval.

But Basil is on the same page as Namah and believes the air incident was an act of intimidation.

"No nation, however large or small, however rich or poor, however large or small its army, should be allowed to intimidate, coerce, manipulate and dominate another," he said.

"That is one of the pillars that hold up the United Nations and the basis upon which Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah raised the issue on the November 29, 2011 incident."

According to a post in PNGblogs.com, a photograph exists of the Falcon landing "with a bag of money".

Two sources aligned to the camp led by Sir Michael Somare have both indicated to PNGIndustryNews.net that photographs were taken of metal containers or trunks being carried out of the Falcon when it landed in Port Moresby with Namah, Basil and the oil palm investors.

A major PNG newspaper was "too frightened" to publish them according to one of these sources.

But PNGIndustryNews.net has not received any of the images or any other hard evidence to support these claims.

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