PM refutes bribery claims on Huawei

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has firmly denied bribery allegations by the Media in relation to selection of the Service Provider ‘Huawei Company’ for the Submarine Cable Project in Solomon Islands.

And he said he never received any form of political donation from Huawei.

Earlier, International media has revealed allegations of SBD$40 million political donation from Huawei Technologies regarding the undersea cable project in Solomon Islands to the Prime Minister and other senior ministers which prompted the Opposition Group to call for an investigation into the assertions thus urged the Prime Minister to tell the truth to this nation if he received such inducement from the company (Huawei).

But responding to the media claims, PM Sogavare in a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) today, says, the recent allegations by the media are false and lack credibility.

“I wish to state for the record that I strongly deny the reports by Media and have never received any form of political donation from Huawei,” Mr Sogavare says.

PM Sogavare says, “if the Media has evidence of such actions by members of the Government and or public service, please have them reported to the Authorities so proper investigations can be conducted rather than making speculative allegations in the media.”

The Fibre Optic Submarine Cable Project is a national project aimed at delivering fast reliable internet services to the Solomon Islands with the winning bid of the three tenders submitted for supply and installation of the fibre optic cable (FOC), originally being awarded to Xtera Communications, Inc as the least expensive of the three bids at USD$45M.

After comprehensive due diligence and consultations were carried out, it was decided in 2016 by the DCCG in both Caucus and Cabinet, that it would be more appropriate to install a brand new FOC rather than the recovered and refurbished cable being offered by Xtera.

According to the Cole Schotz bankruptcy blog, on November 15, 2016, Texas-based Xtera Communications, Inc. and seven of its affiliates filed voluntary petitions for chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The Prime Minister also states that Huawei Marine Networks was also part of the 2015 ADB Tender Process.

Xtera’s bid totalled the sum of USD45 million which consisted supplies of both new cables and recovered and refurbished cables. Huawei’s bid totalling USD53m came 2nd in the overall tender process, however, Huwaei’s bid included the manufacturing of brand new cables.

Alcatel’s bid totalling USD58 million came 3rd in the Tender but their offer included only the supply of recovered and refurbished cable.

“So naturally, Cabinet and Caucus having considered the advantages and disadvantages of available options, a brand new cable was preferred over a second hand cable,” Mr Sogavare says.

Recent media articles have highlighted Canberra’s concern that the Huawei may have links to the Chinese Government and by allowing Huawei to plug into Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure backbone presents a fundamental security issue.

However, in recent bilateral talks between Prime Minister Sogavare and Prime Minister Turnbull both Prime Ministers acknowledge the need for Solomon Islands to develop this important communication infrastructure and assurances have been made to have the security concerns addressed in a manner advantageous to both parties.

“The security concerns of Australia are also the concerns of Solomon Islands and parties are exploring all options to have the matter resolved amicably,” PM Sogavare says.

The Prime Minister is confident and determined to see the issues resolved and delivery of the Submarine Cable Project for the Solomon Islands will commence by next year to provide Solomon Islands with reliable communications infrastructure.

Also in a separate media statement, Huawei Technologies rejected the allegations.

The company stated that the allegations made in the International media (Fairfax newspapers (20/8) regarding the Solomon Islands undersea cable project are baseless and without facts.

“These allegations have no basis in fact, and we denounce this type of groundless coverage. Huawei has never given, implied, nor promised any political donations in relation to this project.

“As a global business entity, Huawei does not involve itself in politics. Huawei forbids all of its global subsidiaries from making any form of political donation, including in places where this practice is legal.

“Cyber security remains a top priority at Huawei. We incorporate strict security protection into all of our business processes, and remain open to working with governments and industries to address global cyber security challenges together.”

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