The first company to receive support from the federal government’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund is substantially owned by Thai interests, including what appears to be the brother of the country’s former finance minister.
The Australian yesterday revealed the private company Onslow Marine Support Base had been recommended by NAIF for an $18.6 million concessional loan, with the money to go towards the construction of a new port logistics facility on Western Australia’s northwest coast.
Australian Securities & Investments Commission records show that about one-third of shares in Onslow Marine Support Base are linked to entities held by Thai-based parties. Its biggest shareholder, Ogress Pty Ltd, is in turn 48 per cent-owned by the Bangkok-based Narumol Wiengwiset, who also owns the majority of another company, Sapphire Marine Services.
Sapphire, Onslow Marine Support Base’s third-biggest shareholder, is 41 per cent-owned by Atikrai Chatikavanij.
There is a top Thai fund manager of that name who is also the brother of Thailand’s former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij. Atikrai founded the Bangkok-based Ton Poh Fund and is described online as one of Thailand’s top fund managers.
The New Zealand-born, Bangkok-based David Mulligan is a director of Onslow Marine Support Base alongside founder and major shareholder Andrew Natta and Exmouth-based Andrew Morgan.
The NAIF funding to Onslow Marine Support Base comes two years after the fund was unveiled by then-treasurer Joe Hockey as part of a plan to develop the nation’s north through favourable loans backed by taxpayers.
The NAIF board is poised to decide by the end of the year whether it should provide a loan to Indian corporate heavyweight Adani to help fund the development of a railway line to Adani’s contentious proposed coalmine.
Labor has taunted the government over the time taken by the fund to find suitable projects to support.
The namesake facility being built by Onslow Marine Support Base is already well into construction.
The facility aims to support offshore oil and gas platforms off WA’s northwest coast, with the Onslow site closer to many facilities than the existing support base in Dampier.
The NAIF funding, together with a minimum $24.5m in funding from the private sector, will help support an expansion so it can support larger vessels.