“There are Commonwealth procurement guidelines for any of these contracts,” Mr Dutton said.
Shares shifted to Singapore
His comments came as it emerged that Paladin, which has been awarded more than $420 million in federal government contracts to provide security on Manus Island, has moved ownership of its Australian entity from Hong Kong to Singapore as the controversial tender comes under intense scrutiny.
In corporate filings submitted this week, all 12,000 shares in “Paladin Aus” were transferred from Paladin’s Hong Kong holding company to its Singapore registered Paladin Holdings Pte Ltd.
While the change was lodged this week, its effective date was listed as November 1, 2017.
On February 28, 2018 Paladin Singapore was awarded a $176.8 million contract to provide security at the East Lorengau Transit centre and two other camps, housing refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.
Six weeks earlier, on September 21, 2017, Paladin Solutions PNG was awarded the initial $89.2 million tender to provide security services at centres until a larger contract was awarded to the Singapore entity.
Since then, Paladin Singapore’s contract – which runs from February 2018 through to June this year – has increased in value to $333.54 million, taking the total amount paid to companies controlled by 38-year-old Craig Thrupp and 41-year old Ian Duncan Stewart to $423 million.
Experts familiar with the tender process say the changes to the ownership structure could relate to security licence requirements under Australian legislation or because of other taxation and accounting reasons. According to LinkedIn searches, Paladin Solutions appears to have some staff based in Australia.
The Financial Review reported that the Paladin web of companies could be earning as much as $17 million a month, after costs, from providing security on Manus Island.
The total value of Paladin’s contracts exceeds that paid to top-tier consulting firms, such as Ernst & Young, while the daily cost per detainee of the service is more than double the rate for a suite in a five-star hotel with views of Sydney Harbour.
Mr Dutton has so far denied requests for further information about the contracts on the grounds that it would harm relations with Papua New Guinea.
No post box
But as more details emerge about Paladin, the decision to award such a lucrative contract to a little-known Singapore company with a registered address on Kangaroo Island come under intense scrutiny.
In August 2017, a month before it won the $89 million contract, Paladin Solutions PNG registered as a foreign company in Australia.
The registered Australian address of Paladin Australia is 134 Nepean Esplanade, a beach shack on a dirt road on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
That address is also assigned as the principal place of business for Paladin Australia.
Australia Post confirmed there was no post box at the address, which meant mail could not be delivered. Instead mail most likely would be held at the nearest post office, 16 kilometres away.
The decision to register a remote location that cannot directly receive mail as both a local office of a foreign company and the principal place of business raises questions about the extent of due diligence conducted on the company by Home Affairs.
This week, the Financial Review reported that Paladin was awarded its contracts under a “limited tender” process, an uncommon process typically reserved for contracts where the service provided is proprietary.
The Financial Review also reported on Tuesday that Paladin has ties to a Canberra consulting firm called Dreamtime Indigenous Services. Dreamtime was set up by David Mayo, who had previously worked at multi-national defence contractor Northrop Grumman, two months before Paladin Solutions won the first contract.
Paladin Singapore held shares in the company but these were later transferred to companies controlled by Mr Stewart and Mr Thrupp’s father Trevor.
However, this week Craig Thrupp and Mr Stewart submitted regulatory filings to remove themselves as directors. Mr Stewart also stepped down as a director of Paladin Aus in filings submitted this week.
The biography of James Kiwi, a security expert who owns 9 per cent of Dreamtime was also removed from the website.