Papua New Guinea’s former prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has been charged with three counts of giving false evidence under oath, after a commission of inquiry recommended he be prosecuted.

The inquiry was examining whether a loan of more than $1 billion (US$675 million) to the PNG government in 2014 from Union Bank of Switzerland’s Australian branch broke laws or constitutional requirements.

The money was used to buy a 10 percent stake in the company Oil Search, with the shares later sold in 2017 at a loss of more than $340 million (US$229 million).

The inquiry was announced by Prime Minster James Marape, following a scathing ombudsman report on the loan.

Hearings were held in 2021, with the final report tabled in parliament a March last year.

It found O’Neill was “centrally responsible” for the loan, which had no “satisfactory justification or rationale”.

It also recommended he be prosecuted for “giving false evidence to the commission.”

In a statement released on Monday, police commissioner David Manning thanked O’Neill for making himself available to police as requested.

“From police investigations, the evidence gathered confirmed that the answers given before the commission were flawed and untrue,” Manning said.

He said after further investigations by police, it was discovered that statements and information produced by O’Neill between 2011 and 2019 were “false and misleading,” when presented before the commission.

In an earlier statement released on Saturday Manning said: “After a thorough investigation and assessment of the facts, we are satisfied and have sufficient evidence that O’Neill has perjured the inquiry, thereby committing an offence under the Commission of Inquiry Act of giving false evidence under oath,” commissioner Manning said.

Outside police headquarters in Port Moresby, O’Neill denied any wrongdoing.

“As far as I know I did not mislead the commission of inquiry,” he said.

“But we will test this in court.”

“They believed my political opponents and other people who went and made statements in the commission of inquiry.”

“This is all part of a game they are playing to try and intimidate me and harass me, but let me tell you that I’m not going anywhere.”

Later, after being processed at Boroko police station, he spoke to a raucous crowd of hundreds of supporters who had gathered on the street.

The inquiry’s report describes a “hurried and inadequate process” when the deal was negotiated, withO’Neill and former treasury secretary Dairi Vele driving the process to the exclusion of others.