The former deputy prime minister of Papua New Guinea yesterday told a commission of inquiry that a senior Jardine Fleming executive escorted him to a meeting with the chief of a mercenary company. Chris Haiveta alleged that Rupert McCowan sat outside the London office as he met Tim Spicer, the chief executive of Sandline International, to discuss the hiring of mercenaries to quell a rebellion on the copper rich island of Bougainville. Mr McCowan, who has been suspended on full pay by Jardine Fleming, had been involved in Jardine's sale of stock in Orogen Minerals, the privatised division of Papua New Guinea's Mineral Resources. Jardine led the international sale and Mr McCowan was co-ordinator of the road show that included a visit to London. Mr Haiveta told the Port Moresby inquiry that Mr McCowan was 'being hospitable' to the senior member of the PNG delegation in taking him to the Sandline meeting. Under cross-examination by Ian Molloy, counsel for the commission, he alleged Mr McCowan later became involved in giving advice on the financial aspects of the abortive deal to pay the mercenaries US$36 million. Mr Haiveta also said Mr McCowan was not being paid for his advice on the Sandline deal. He told the commission: 'If he was paid he was our adviser on the Orogen float and if he was paid, he would have been paid by that means, but for this particular project which I had asked him or invited him to undertake, which had not gotten off the ground, he was not being paid for.' Asked by Mr Molloy what was in it for Mr McCowan, Mr Haiveta said: 'He is a manager, a financial expert, and I asked him to help me because we had been involved together, he had advised the government. 'He had been involved in the very successful float of the Orogen Project and when I asked him to come - I invited him to come and talk to me about the possibility of his engagement or the engagement of his firm because of the performance . . . and the service they provided to us in the Orogen road show.' Mr Haiveta said he wanted Mr McCowan to prepare the briefing notes for future mineral deals which the Cabinet might consider. He said: 'When the problem [with remitting US$18 million to Sandline] cropped up, I asked him naturally to see if, given his experience in financial matters, I asked him to help out.' Mr Haiveta said he did not recall ordering Vele Iamo, the former deputy finance secretary, Zacchary Gelu, the state solicitor, and others to attend a meeting in Mr McCowan's room at the Port Moresby Islander Hotel on January 27 to review the contract with the mercenaries. He told the inquiry he would have believed it wrong to have Mr McCowan review the draft contract because he was 'not involved' in the project. Mr McCowan, who is based in Hong Kong, has been invited to give evidence to the inquiry. At the time of Mr McCowan's 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. Jardine 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.