A senior Jardine Fleming executive is alleged to have held a meeting in his Port Moresby hotel room with Papua New Guinea Government officials about the hiring of mercenaries. Rupert McCowan, who has been suspended on full pay, is alleged to have met Deputy Finance Secretary Iamo Vele, and state solicitor Zacchary Gelu, to review a 10-page contract setting out terms for the commissioning of professional soldiers working for British-based mercenary company Sandline International. The then defence force commander, Brigadier-General Jerry Singirok, was scheduled but failed to attend the meeting at the Islander Hotel on the evening of January 27. Mr Vele has told a committee of inquiry that concerns had been raised by the Papua New Guinea Banking Corp about the transfer of US$18 million - half the mercenaries' total payment - to a Hong Kong bank. Mr Vele told the committee that Mr McCowan's role was to liaise with the bank's officials to 'satisfy those requirements'. The hearing has been told Mr McCowan attended three meetings concerning payments to fund an abortive attempt to put down a six-year rebellion on the copper rich island of Bougainville. At an earlier meeting on January 23 in the offices of the deputy finance secretary Mr McCowan is alleged to have told Mr Iamo that PNG's Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Haiveta, had sent him to advise on the 'international transaction side' of any payments to the mercenaries. Mr Vele told the hearing Mr McCowan would assist in the paperwork needed to secure the $18 million transfer. He said he initially did not know why Mr McCowan was in Port Moresby but believed it could have been in connection with an earlier privatisation of a mining company. Jardine Fleming led the sale of stock in Orogen Minerals, the privatised division of Papua New Guinea's Mineral Resources Development Corp, in October. At an earlier hearing, another witness, James Forrester, an executive manager for PNG Banking Corp, told the inquiry that Mr McCowan attended a third meeting at his office. Mr McCowan, who is in his early 30s, has extensive corporate finance experience in Asia and the sub-continent. He worked on the Pakistan Telecommunications' $750 million fundraiser, sealed deals in India and, according to Jardines, was sent to PNG as part of a routine visit. The Papua New Guinea Government and Jardine Fleming never signed a contract but it is understood he was to approach mining giant RTZ-CRA about whether it wanted to sell its stake in the Bougainville mine. At the time of his suspension, Jardine Fleming said it was investigating a range of allegations, including that he had acted as an intermediary between the Port Moresby government and mercenaries. Jardines has launched its own inquiry into the issue and has employed lawyers to attend the Port Moresby hearings. A spokesman said: 'We have no comment and make no comment on the substantive contents, allegations made or evidence tabled.' The hearing continues.