Cash strapped government moves Environment Dept into plush new office

November 15, 2017 1 comment

Peter O’Neill’s cash strapped government is moving it Conservation and Environment Protection Authority into plush new office accommodation in one of Port Moresby’s premier real estate developments.

The Savannah Heights complex on Waigani Drive is the new home for both CEPA and its sister organisation, the Climate Change Development Authority.

The two organisations will occupy the whole eight floors in one Savannah Heights tower; quite a step up from CEPA’s old accommodation in the B-Mobile building further down Waigani Drive.

The new accommodation costs are clouded in secrecy, but it is believed the government is paying at least K1,200 per square metre per month. With CEPA and CCDA spread over eight luxurious floors that could mean a bill of around K2 million a month or K24 million a year.

Other estimates have put the costs as high as K3.5 million a month or K42 million each year.

CEPA staff are rather bewildered by the move as CEPA relies on generous grants from aid donors like the United Nations and Japanese and Australian governments to maintain many of its functions.

Inside the new CEPA / CCDA building

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Juffa slams ‘another logging scam’

November 1, 2017 2 comments

Inspection of Ifane Agro Forestry Project

Update by Gary Juffa via FaceBook

As usual as has been the case with such dubious projects done without the approval of my Office and the Provincial Executive Committee.

This is the other Forestry scam besides SABL: FCA – FOREST CLEARING AUTHORITY.

Here public servants in provinces corroborate with PNGFA officials and dubious “landowners” to award permits via the PNGFA BOARD to log chunks of land of 500 hectares to logging pirates on the pretext of “tree growing” and “agricultural projects”.

Thing is.. these are the same plunderers who pay no taxes and have planted no trees or a single agricultural species of plant or animal life for the last 20 – 30 years…

My inspection in reaction to landowner petitions revealed massive breaches of various laws including environmental, trespassing, labour, transport, migration and others.

I took Administration officials who confessed giving approvals without bringing to my attention first. The officials were showed the various areas of concern that the company blatantly logged in breach of various laws and instructed to act immediately and impose penalties.

Interviewed some of the landowners who all admitted they are “partners”.. but have not been paid.. despite truckloads of high value logs leaving their land.

Meanwhile a dispute remains as to who are actual landowners.

Instructed PNGFA and Administration to immediately furnish documents for the so called project, instruct company to cease operations until they pay fines for all breaches and we have investigated their legality of operations, inform all clans to congregate end of November to deliberate on damages and trespassing and compile case to sue for damages.

See also – Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

October 28, 2017 1 comment

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker

Industry observer: “This is a complete nonsense… a cocoa project simply doesn’t need a massive hectarage, involving massive forestry clearance and equipment… It’s clearly another completely fraudulent exercise, made easier by the lack of penalties imposed upon the existing SABL perpetrators”

By Lester Seri

The National Forest Authority has granted permission for logging in the Collingwood Bay area of Northern Province despite the strong opposition of local people.

This is the third attempt at large-scale commercial logging in the area, the two previous attempts having been successfully defeated through the courts.

It is understood Northern Forest Products Ltd and Aisor Development Corporation have been issued a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to log Portions 136, 137 and up to Baruga lands  and to the Musa river.

According to the maps seen, its seems the entire Collingwood Bay area is to be consumed by logging under the pretext of planting cocoa.

Local people have been given no information about the proposed logging and have not seen a copy of the FCA proposal, or any approval granted by the National Forest Board or the Forest Minister.

Requests to the Forest Authority for these documents have gone unanswered and local people are totally in the dark as to how the authorities could give approval without even consulting local people and without ensuring their consent.

Meanwhile a company (allegedly involving a Malaysian and some Wanigela landowners) has been landing logging equipment at  Wanigela since April this year. The equipment is being stored at Naukwat village, a home to one of the people known to have been directly involved in the illegal Collingwood Bay SABL that was declared illegal by the National Court in June 2014.

Collingwood Bay landowners are at a loss to understand the continuing defiance by the National Forest Authority to grant licences for logging concessions in their area despite court rulings after court ruling in favour of the landowners that span nearly 30 years.

There are rumours that the Provincial Government and the Administration are in support of a cocoa project in Collingwood Bay, and it is alleged that the new FCA and movement of logging machineries have their approval?

Questions asked are:

  1. Why have the landowners not been officially made aware of this government sanctioned cocoa project?
  2. Why does the cocoa planting require bulldozers, jinkers and graders, when the landowners need only knives, spades and axes to plant cocoa.

The Baruga landowners have already put up tabu markings stopping anybody moving into their private land.

The National Forest Authority has miserably failed many landowning communities’ in Papua New Guinea over the years and continues to do so in Collingwood Bay through the illegal SABL and now this suspect FCA.

The Collingwood Bay people have held community consultation forums since 2014 and have unanimously agreed to pursuing their own Community Conservation Initiative. This received final community approval in April 2017, and funding support has been secured.

It seems the National Forest Authority is intent on deliberately truncating / DESTROYING the Communities’ Conservation Initiative over 650,000 hectares of land by encouraging logging without the consent of the local people.

I AM OF THE STRONG VIEW THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE ENTIRE COLLINGWOOD BAY COMMUNITIES’ TO CONVERGE AT WANIGELA AND DEMAND AN EXPLANATION FROM THOSE CONCERNED, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION, AND THE RESPECTIVE FORESTRY OFFICES IN PORT MORESBY AND POPONDETTA.

Korean arrested for exchanging K50,000 of demonetized currency

October 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Still many questions unanswered about how demonetized Kina came to leave PNG and is now in Korean hands in the Philippines…

Source: Rey Galupo \ The Philippine Star 

The Korean tried to exchange 50,000 kina, the demonetized Papua New Guinea currency, into pesos when he was arrested.

A Korean man was arrested and charged with estafa after he exchanged P160,000 worth of a demonetized currency in Binondo, Manila on Wednesday. 

Kim Jae Song went to the moneychanger stall of businessman Johnny Hao, 71, at the basement of 999 Mall at around 11 a.m. and had his 10,000 kina (Papua New Guinea currency) changed into pesos, which is equivalent to P160,120.87.

Kim introduced himself as Rey Lee during the transaction and hurriedly left.

However, Hao’s nephew, Bryon Pedelos, later learned that the Papua New Guinea currency that the suspect swapped was no longer accepted as legal tender after he tried to sell it to other moneychangers.

They learned that the currency had been demonetized in 2013.

Two hours later, Kim went back to Hao’s shop and was trying to exchange his 50,000 kina to pesos.

The shop’s security guards apprehended the suspect and turned him over to the police.

During investigation, Kim failed to explain where he kept the money he initially swapped, according to Chief Inspector Joey de Ocampo, Manila Police District general assignment and investigation chief.

He refused to answer questions, forcing the police to coordinate with the Korean embassy, which said Kim is considered an undesirable alien and had been staying in the country without proper papers.

De Ocampo said they are also asking the Bureau of Immigration to help determine when Kim entered the country.

Profiting from Sickness: The Dark Economy of Public Health in Papua New Guinea

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

PNGi has released the first instalment of a three-part investigation into the abusive commercial transactions that are leading to the circulation of overpriced and substandard medicines and medical supplies and the waste of millions of Kina in desperately needed funding.

Life expectancy in PNG is twenty years lower than in Australia and the lowest in the region. Eight million people in Papua New Guinea live without access to decent health care and everyone feels the impacts.

If ever there was a sector which should be safeguarded by political leaders to ensure that services are provided in an effective and efficient manner, free from malfeasance, it is public health, but as the the PNGi investigation reveals, that is far from reality.

Profiting from Sickness focuses on controversial medical goods supplier, Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals Limited, its principal, Sir Sang Chung Poh, and a network of business people, former public servants and doctors, connected to him.

Part I of Profiting from Sickness puts the spotlight on Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals Limited itself.

It reveals allegations made against Borneo Pacific from a range of credible authorities, including the Medical Association of PNG, The Global Fund’s Inspector General, a Special Parliamentary Committee, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Solicitor General’s Office, the National Doctor’s Association, front-line medical workers, Professor Glen Mola, Governor Gary Juffa, and Sir Mekere Morauta.

The general pattern common to all these allegations, is that Borneo Pacific benefits from rigged or flawed tender processes, which come at a significant cost to donors and the public. Furthermore, the goods being provided through these flawed tenders, it is claimed, have been found wanting.

All of which, it is argued, result in Borneo Pacific make engorged profits at the public’s financial and physical expense.

The consequences of this alleged abusive behaviour could not be more serious. Rather than the public health system eroding health inequalities, it is exacerbating them and missing the opportunity to make inroads into primary health care that could make a significant impact on the quality and quantity of life enjoyed by ordinary citizens. This comes at an enormous cost to family life and the national economy.

Part II of Profiting from Sickness, to be published next week, will turn the spotlight on some of Sir Sang Chung Poh’s business partners. These include some of the country’s top physicians; some of who have been investigated for abuse of position in the health system, with extremely worrying results.

Part III will look at Poh’s wider business interests, which extend into many sectors of the economy and provide some interesting connections, even reaching as far as the Prime Minister himself.

The Midas Touch and Papua New Guinea’s kleptocracy

August 30, 2017 2 comments

Papua New Guinea’s new investigative website, PNGi Central, has published an in-depth examination of the career of Peter O’Neill that has largely escaped notice in the chaos of the elections.

Published in three parts – Secret Millionaire; The Big Skim; and Lift OffThe Midas Touch lifts the lid on how corruption thrives in Papua New Guinea and how politicians abuse their positions and milk the system to build considerable private fortunes.

The Midas Touch shows Papua New Guinea as a classic kleptocratic state ruled by a small elite or oligarchy, who exploit the nations natural resources and steal. They enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. This kleptocracy is currently led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Over the last twenty-years, O’Neill has abused his various political positions to enrich himself by building a network of companies that have benefited from government and foreign aid contracts, soft loans and broader policy decisions.

While in public office it is estimated that O’Neill has amassed a personal fortune of well over K150 million, all the while juggling complex conflicts of interest as his companies have benefited from government policy and spending decisions.

In addition:

  • O’Neill liquidated assets valued at more than K100 million in the lead up to this year’s national  elections;
  • His hidden corporate interests include shareholdings in more than 30 companies including hospitality, real estate, finance, retailing, air transport, communications, information technology, mining support, funeral services and construction;
  • His companies have been given contracts by the Australian government and Asian Development Bank, among others, and are frequently used by the mining and other foreign-owned industries;
  • He has directly benefited from fraudulent land and property dealings documented in two Commission’s of Inquiry; and
  • O’Neil has completely failed to comply with companies legislation on the timely, proper and complete filing of financial returns.

According to The Midas Touch, the story of O’Neill’s business empire starts in 1997, when O’Neill was plucked from obscurity and appointed to positions in various State Owned Enterprises by the notoriously corrupt Prime Minister, William Skate. O’Neill immediately started to use these positions to enrich himself and his his business partners.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, O’Neill flirted with disaster when many of his early scams became the subject of two major Commission’s of Inquiry into the National Provident Fund and Investment Corporation. O’Neill survived however, and used his election as an MP and subsequent appointment to various Ministerial positions to substantially grow his business empire, an empire that has flourished since O’Neill seized the Prime Ministership in 2011.

Along this journey, O’Neill has surrounded himself with a small group of close associates, many of them Australian’s, who run his companies and with a coterie of businessmen and lawyers who have profited from his abuses and protected him from scrutiny.

Here is a quick summary of what you will find in the three parts of The Midas Touch.

Part 1. Secret Millionaire: How Peter O’Neill and associates have made a killing 

In the space of 20 years, Peter O’Neill has built a business and political empire. Secret Millionaire introduces us to the businesses and the players behind O’Neill’s rise and his early years as a student, accountant and struggling businessman before his big break when he is appointed head of various SOEs.

Part Two. The Big Skim: Peter O’Neill Inc meets Don Sawong and Tos Barnett

In 2003 and 2007 the O’Neill empire was rocked by two COIs. Part II of The Midas Touch looks into the unwieldy scams, and shams, it is alleged Peter O’Neill became an expert in.

Part Three. Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire

As O’Neill’s political career went from strength to strength after 2011, so did his business empire. Part III of The Midas Touch looks into some of the more controversial deals and contacts that led O’Neill to become one of the richest men in PNG.

The faces behind some of PNGs illegal logging

August 18, 2017 2 comments

Chih-hao Chang, Hung Chin Ng and Sie Miew Tiong are the owners of Achim Agro Limited, a company accused by locals of illegally logging in East Sepik Province – see story below. The reports of SGS, the company that is supposed to monitor all log exports from PNG, contain no record of Achim Agro Limited.

Chang, who is Chinese, Ng and Tiong, who are Malaysian, are also the owners of two other PNG registered companies, Grace Foremost Limited and Wewak Cocoa Limited. All three companies were registered in 2016.

via Facebook

There is a Chinese Timber company “ACHIM ECO FORESTRY COMPANY” who has destroyed Turubu and has shifted their operations to Kauk in West Coast Dagua in East Sepik. They have destroyed and stolen a great deal of timber without paying the landowners and are now looking at grabbing our land by conning some of my relatives and KAIKAI man from SMAIN and BUT villages.

ACHIM have paid them lousy thousands of Kina to go in and harvest the timber. We have taken out a preventative order to stop them and we will be in court with them next week.

Governor Allan BirdKevin Isifu & Richard Maru, we need your help in removing this illegal company, grabbing land from ignorant land owners and making false promises to them.