There has been plenty of media coverage this week about the sale by Maybank of its Papua New Guinea banking interests. The story has made headlines in both PNG and Malaysia and been featured extensively in the business pages right across the the Asian and Pacific regions. A few examples of the media coverage are copied at the foot of this post.
But one crucial detail has been missing from all the media coverage. Nobody has mentioned that the company taking over Maybank’s interests in PNG is in fact the notorious Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau.
RH has already used the profits from its extensive illegal and destructive logging operations in PNG to expand its interests into property development, media, retail, shipping, aviation, travel and the financial sector. But it is remaining very coy about its involvement in the Maybank deal – presumably because land grabbing (RH was slammed in the recent Commission of Inquiry into the unlawful SABL land scam), illegal logging, environmental destruction, human rights abuses and the use of the police to terrorize landowners are somewhat frowned upon in the offices and board rooms of the banking world. And how many Maybank customers will want to stay with the bank when they realise their monies are in the hands of Rimbunan Hijau?
Even Rimbunan Hijau’s own newspaper, The National, has failed to mention RH’s role in the deal, despite splaying the story of the Maybank sale across its front page on Wednesday, including two more articles on the deal on its inside pages and running two further stories yesterday, including one featuring opposition leader Don Polye endorsing the takeover.
All that we have learnt about the Maybank sale from the media is that Maybank has been sold to a company called Kina Ventures and Kina Ventures is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kina Securities.
But who owns Kina Securities? Well it is Rimbunan Hijau. But that ownership is carefully hidden behind a veil of secrecy and deception involving various off-shore companies and hidden shareholdings.
According to the Investment Promotion Authoriy, Kina Securities is 94% owned by Fu Shan Investment Ltd with Columbus Investments and Wayne Golding each holding small 3% share parcels.
Fu Shan Investment is a Hong Kong registered company with address at Level 28, 3 Pacific Place, 1 Queens Road East, Hong Kong.
But the first real clue as to Rimbunan Hijau’s ownership comes from looking at Kina’s Board of Directors. Alongside Wayne Goding, Sid Yates, Don Manua and Rabbie Namaliu sit Peter NG, General Manager for Corporate Finance and Investment for the Rimbunan Hijau Group in Malaysia, and Chin ‘James’ Yap, of Rimbunan Hijau PNG. Former directors also include direct members of the Tiong family, the owners of Rimbunan Hijau.
Fu Shan acquired its shares in Kina Securities in November 2011, buying 1,190,000 from a company called Flensburg Inc and 600,000 from Primeco Limited. Both Flensburg and Primeco have previously been exposed as Rimbunan Hijau subsidiaries. Colombus acquired its 100,000 shares from Flensburg in December 2006
Those with a long memory may remember we have been here before. In 2006, when Rimbunan Hijau’s ownership of Kina Securities was first exposed, the company went to extraordinary lengths trying to deny the claims and cover-up the evidence. The lies and deception, particularly from Sid Yates, was all extensively detailed online by PNG’s first web based corruption watchdog – Masalai i Tokaut.
Masalai revealed that the company Kina claimed as its owner was not even a real, registered company and that the women Kina said was the ultimate shareholder was actually the wife of the brother of Rimbunan Hijau’s founder and a director of several RH subsidiary companies. Masalai also exposed how Kina was operating its huge superannuation business without a licence and was defrauding the State of million of kina in fees.
Some of the recent media coverage
Malaysia’s Maybank exits Papua New Guinea for $117 mln
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia’s largest bank by assets, said on Monday it will sell its commercial banking units in Papua New Guinea for 418 million ringgit ($117.15 million).
The sale of Maybank (PNG) Ltd and Mayban Property Ltd to Kina Ventures Ltd follows a decision to re-focus Maybank’s resources into ASEAN and China, where it can achieve better synergies and investment returns, the bank said in a statement.
“While we have been operating profitably and successfully in Papua New Guinea over the years, we have had to evaluate how best we can use our capital going forward, especially in light of new and more stringent requirements under the Basel III regime,” Chief Executive Abdul Farid Alias said.
The sale is expected to conclude in the second half of this year.
Maybank to exit Papua New Guinea
Source: The Rakyat Post
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has entered into an agreement with Kina Ventures Ltd and Kina Securities Ltd of Papua New Guinea for the proposed disposal of Maybank’s entire equity interest of two subsidiaries incorporated in Papua New Guinea for a total cash consideration of about RM418 million.
The sale of both Maybank (PNG) Ltd (MPNG) and Mayban Property (PNG) Ltd (MPPNG) is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015, Maybank said in a statement today.
MPNG and MPPNG have been involved in commercial banking activities and property investment respectively.
The disposal will not have any effect on the issued and paid-up share capital as well as shareholdings of the substantial shareholders of Maybank.
It is also not expected to have any material effect on the earnings per share, net assets per share and gearing of the Maybank Group for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2015.
Maybank group president and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Farid Alias said the sale is part of Maybank’s continuous effort to evaluate its international operations with a specific focus on maximising capital use as well as optimising resources in the most efficient manner.
“This decision to dispose of our operations in Papua New Guinea is a result of strategic reviews carried out regularly at the group to reprioritise our capital and resources with the intention of focusing our growth agenda in target regions where we can achieve the best returns from our investments.
“While we have been operating profitably and successfully in Papua New Guinea over the years, we have had to evaluate how best we can use our capital going forward, especially in light of new and more stringent requirements under the Basel III regime.”
Ultimately, he said, greater value creation can be achieved for all stakeholders by re-focusing resources in the Asean and Greater China regions where greater synergies and better returns on capital investment can be realised.
Abdul Farid said despite the share sale agreement, Maybank would still be committed to serving customers in Papua New Guinea who have cross-border requirements given the banking group’s vast network in the region and in key international centres.
Kina takes over Maybank
Source: The National, Wednesday May 20th, 2015
KINA Bank will become the country’s fourth largest bank following the Kina Group’s K319 million-plus acquisition of Maybank PNG.
Kina Group chief executive officer Sydney Yates said Maybank and the Kina Group customers could now access a broader range of banking and financial services and products under one roof.
Kina Group is the country’s largest non-banking financial institution. “Cornerstone investors that have agreed to provide funding in connection with the transaction include PNG superannuation funds Comrade Trustee Services Limited, Nambawan Super Limited and National Superannuation Fund Limited,” Yates said.
“Kina Group is presently considering options to fund future growth, including a possible stock exchange listing.”
Yates said Maybank PNG was an attractive banking business with a solid capital and liquidity position. The transaction is being undertaken in consultation with the Central Bank of PNG and should be completed in July.
Yates said Kina Group would pay about K319 million, plus the difference in the value of the net assets of Maybank PNG at the completion of the proposed acquisition, compared to December 31, 2014.
“The acquisition allows Kina to enter into electronic banking, leveraging Maybank PNG’s client base and the growing demand for electronic banking services,” Yates said.
“Kina Group already services the financial and investment needs of our 8000 lending clients, 3000 stockbroking clients and 150,000 fund administration clients, as well as acting as a licensed investment manager with approximately K4.7 billion in funds under management.
“Maybank PNG’s business provided a natural fit to Kina, enabling it to extend its reach in PNG’s financial sector market with an established and profitable company that had all necessary licences and an established client base.”
Yates said the acquisition “further reinforces our commitment to provide the PNG community with an alternative to the big banks and offers our combined customers access to a wider range of products and services”.
He said Maybank PNG was identified as an attractive acquisition for Kina due to its established infrastructure, conservative capital structure, and client base which offered exposure to PNG’s growing middle class, small-to-medium enterprise sector and high net-worth individuals.
“Kina Group intends to extend its physical presence in PNG, through expanding its branch network following the acquisition,” he said.
“Providing greater access to financial services to residents in isolated areas will be critical in tapping into this growth opportunity.”
Maybank PNG was established in 1994 as a subsidiary of the largest Malaysian banking and financial services business, the Maybank Group.
It offers a range of products including loans, overdrafts, trade financing, foreign exchange, banker guarantees, current accounts, savings and fixed deposit accounts.
Yates said a key benefit for Kina Group of a full banking licence would be the lower cost of wholesale funding.
Namah is no saint
by JOHN R.WAROLO | PNG Blogs
The truth has been coming out for years but this latest Namah con game is what finally wakes us up to what Belden Namah has been doing right under our noses for years and even reported on the social media. He has been involved in one con game after another since at least 2008 when he was Forest Minister and at this point, only a fool wouldn’t have figured out the real pasin blo Belden. Want a summary of Namah’s Bewani scam? Here it is:
Belden Namah and Jimmy Tse partnered some years back to scam ‘investors’ out of their money. Bewani SABL was the perfect bait, being an incredibly large and rich source of valuable hardwood timber, all of which could be legally taken for free under the provisions of the resource grabbing SABL 99 year lease (PNG government receives not 1 toea in royalties from timber cut on SABLs). Namah and Tse reckoned that gave them the freedom to charge the “developers” for the timber themselves. There had already been so many SABLs where loggers had escaped their responsibility of planting cash crops as soon as they finished their logging, that is seems Namah and Tse weren’t all that concerned if this happened to Bewani.
It appears that Namah’s 2012 campaign money came at least partly from Jimmy Tse’s purchase of 100% of the Bewani SABL from Namah only 1 month after Namah got it registered. We also know that when Namah was Forestry minister, they attracted (probably equally unscrupulous) Malaysian investor Andrew Lim to deposit at least US $10 million into bank accounts scattered from Fiji to Hongkong, From 2007-2009, Lim deposited another nearly US $500,000 into accounts of Tse and Namah, again scatttered across the Pacific. What Lim didn’t know was that Tse had secretly brought in 2 Malaysian loggers, Tee and Tee, to Bewani. Namah’s partner, Jimmy Tse, then issued a bunch of new shares in the development which reduced Lim’s interest in Bewani from majority shareholder to only owning a tiny fraction of the development. The scam was finished, the money was made.
As long as Namah had his pockets filled with money, he wasn’t too concerned about either his people or what was going on back home with the logging. But there are enough reports to confirm Namah’s addiction to gambling and overall he seems to have the same ability to handle money as someone straight out of the stone age. he past few months, it became apparent that Namah was running out of money fast. His own people were getting angrier and angrier that no oil palm was being planted, something that Namah knew about all along, but which he neatly avoided by doing what most politicians do – he stayed well away from his people.
As his money reserves headed for empty, for some reason he wasn’t able to milk Malaysians Tee and Tee out of enough money to satisfy his needs. They obviously weren’t interested in cutting their own profits to put money into Namah’s pockets. Increasingly desperate, Namah, hatched a scheme to pull another “Andrew :Lim scam”, but this time becoming Sandaun governor so that he could kick Tee and Tee off Bewani land and bring in another developer, this time a businessman from India.
Presumably the Indian promised to plant oil palm after shipping out all the valuable hardwoods, but Namah shouldn’t count on that. Scumbags tend to attract other scumbags, and the end game is little more than a game of who can con the other out of their money, no holds barred. After all, the money they’re playing with isn’t theirs. They’ve conned it out of someone else prior to the challenge!
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been sitting on the findings of the SABL Commission of Inquiry since June 2013.
The CoI found the leases were unlawful and should be revoked – but no action has been taken to cancel them.
In September 2013 O’Neill told us he had appointed a Ministerial Task Force and “We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
But the Task Force has not cancelled a single lease
And now O’Neill is telling us (see below) he has appointed ANOTHER task force with exactly the same brief as the old one.
And who will head the new Task Force? Lawrence Kalinoe, the Secretary for Justice who just a few weeks ago went on radio to explain exactly why the government would NOT cancel the leases. According to Kalinoe, the leases are all the fault of the landowners and the State has done nothing wrong and it would be ‘unfair’ to cancel the leases.
Come on Mr O’Neill, enough of these bullshit excuses – you are not fooling anyone…
Task force to implement SABL inquiry report
Source: The National (the mouthpiece of notorious Malaysian logging company, Rimbunan Hijau)
The National Executive Council has approved the establishment and appointment of a task force to oversee and coordinate recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL).
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet had taken note of the submission on the progress made to implement recommendations made by the COI and gave approval to revoke certain parts of it.
“Cabinet gave approval for the appointment of a task force that comprises members with relevant technical expertise and are given the responsibility for the oversight and co-ordination of the implementation of recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry,” he said.
“The task force will report directly to the Chief Secretary to Government and one of its tasks will be to establish what measures have already been taken to implement the recommendations so that interest groups are properly informed.”
O’Neill said the members were Dr Lawrence Sause, Daniel Katakumb and Kutt Paonga.
He said the taskforce would help the Government make better decisions for the interested groups on the SABL issue.
PNG Exposed blew the whistle on Bougainvillle POGE Ltd after being alerted by concerned civil servants within the ABG. Headed up by Filipino executives slammed in numerous human rights reports, POGE Ltd is also part owned by senior Bougainville politicians, including the President himself John Momis.
While POGE Ltd attempts to pass itself off as a grass-roots development group, its senior executives have been involved in land grabs, organised violence and destructive palm oil operations. They are also deeply involved in using the power of the church and religion to divide and conquer communities.
Now the National has revealed more about the shady operations of POGE and its attempts to import rice classified as ‘rejected food’.
Source: The National, Thursday May 14th, 2015
By Rebecca Kuku
POGE Rice consigned to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has been banned from being brought into the country.
A ship carrying 1600 tons of it was detained and its load was not to be offloaded.
The ship was to be diverted to Port Moresby.
ABG President John Momis recently launched POGE in Bougainville.
The rice was to be delivered to 85,000 members of POGE in Bougainville but was stopped by the authorities.
However, the Philippines–based marketing company POGE Development Ltd’s shipment to Kieta Wharf from Vietnam, was stopped as the consignment had not been cleared.
The rice needs clearance as safe for human consumption and given a proper permit under the Food Sanitation Act of Papua New Guinea.
Food Safety and Quarantine officer Aaron Gwamatae said in a letter to the Papua New Guinea Customs that they were to divert the vessel to Port Moresby as the rice was classified as a rejected food under the Food Sanitation Act.
Gwamatae said the ship was to be diverted to Port Moresby Wharf so that the consignment could be investigated and tested.
He said they had issued a notice of rejection for the rice for food safety reasons.
“There was no risk assessment done to verify the vitamin contents, which is a requirement under the Food Sanitation Act,” Gwamatae said.
He said the processing plant’s food safety management system as well as Vietnam’s regulatory food safety system had not been assessed and audited to assure the Health Department that the rice produced and supplied was safe for consumers in the country.
The ship has been detained at the Kieta Wharf since last Thursday.
Attempts to reach the POGE Development Ltd for comment were not successful.
Belden Namah, the West Sepik Governor and Former Deputy Prime Minister, who has made a small fortune out of logging his peoples forests, has been been heavily implicated in the illegal SABL land grab and who once famously gambled away $800,000 in a single night, is now crying foul as his people realize their promised dreams are never going to be fulfilled and they have been conned by their MP and his logging mates…
Developer plundered our forest, village, Governor says
Source: The National (ironically owned by Rimbunan Hijau – another serial illegal logger)
SANDAUN Governor Belden Namah’s dream of hosting the biggest oil palm plantation in the southern hemisphere is now in ruins after the proposed developer allegedly plundered his forest and village.
He now regrets bringing the developer into his Vanimo-Green electorate in West Sepik.
Namah even invited Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to launch the oil palm project by planting the first oil palm seedlings in 2012 during the O’Neill-led Government.
The oil palm tree planted by O’Neill has withered away. “I brought the Prime Minister in 2012 and we launched it. The Prime Minister planted the first oil palm. We had a big dream. The company boasted to develop and plant oil palm plantation, only to realise that we have been defrauded.”
Now Namah is planning a massive legal action against the developer to the extent of terminating the agreement and seeking compensation for environment damage.
“We brought the company to develop an oil palm project under the Special Agricultural Businesses Lease agreement. The developer was supposed to log the forest and then plant oil palm. Instead, they have moved away from their core purpose which is agriculture to come and plant and develop an oil palm estate,” Namah said.
“I was proud when I introduced this project and I thought it will be a leading oil palm project in the southern hemisphere.
“But when they started to sell the first shipment of logs, they forgot about oil palm plantation and focused on logging. They didn’t observe the best agriculture practices by clear felling logs and planting oil palm before moving on.
“Instead they just logged the area and move. Only on the side of the road they just plant oil palm juts like window dressing.
“But you go further in, there are logs lying and dumped in the river, creeks and clear fall areas logs are there.
“About 150,000 landowners are now displaced. The project was supposed to improve their daily livelihood. Instead it has allegedly turned out the opposite and devastated about 150,000 hectares of forest.
“The logging operation displaced over 150,000 people by destroying their lands and rivers and creeks.
“Even my own village has been affected. We can’t make gardens, hunt and fish anymore.”
Namah claimed that the Forestry, Agriculture, Environment, Labour and Immigration departments are turning a blind eye against the company’s operation.
There has still been NO ACTION to cancel the huge SABL land grab, revoke the unlawful leases or stop the illegal logging in Papua New Guinea.
It is now 686 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be cancelled.
On June 24, 2013 O’Neill was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.
O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.
In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:
“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said
“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”
“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people”
But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.
For 686 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and he has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.
Crucially he has failed to take any action to remove the corrupt public servants responsible for the land grab or distance himself from the politicians, including key Minister’s, complicit in the illegal deals and who are now blocking any positive action to revoke the leases and stop the logging.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.