Land Minister Benny Allen swallowed up by the SABL corruption he vowed to fight

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Allen swallowed up by corruption

In October 2012, the then new Lands Minister, Benny Allen spoke eloquently about the rampant corruption in his Department that had led to the SABL land grab and other abuses:

I have seen firsthand the blatant abuse of due process thereby promoting corruption and high level of inefficiency within the department of Lands & Physical Planning. The system of land administration is corrupt and dysfunctional.

First, I will implement the policy of zero tolerance on corruption within the Department. Corruption has resulted in the loss of large parcels of land owned both by customary land owners and the State.

As you all are aware, blatant abuse of process facilitated by staff within the Department over the years has led to large areas of customary land being fraudulently leased to foreigners for as long as 99 years throughout the country.

In the interest of protecting Papua New Guinea land from being fraudulently transacted, I will ensure that the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Issuance of Special Agriculture Businesses Leases (SABL) are fully implemented.[1]

Now, more than four years later, not one lease has been cancelled and the Minister has radically changed his position, seemingly swallowed up by the same corruption he vowed to fight.

Rather than ensuring the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendations are fully implemented and the leases cancelled as he promised, the Minister is now trying to endorse and consolidate the land grab by issuing new leases to the very same companies that stole the land in the first place.

The Minister says his Department is “converting these SABLs into customary land leases through the Incorporated Landowner Group and Voluntary Customary Lands Registration concepts.” [2]

It seems the only way the Prime Minister can now uphold his own promises to ensure the leases are cancelled will be to remove the Lands Minister…

Endnotes
1. National Land Development Conference 
Opening Speech, 12 October 2012
2. Post Courier, 15 March 2017

O’Neill’s illegal logging – 1365 days and counting…

March 20, 2017 2 comments

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

O’Neill’s illegal logging – 1358 days and counting…

March 13, 2017 1 comment

There is still NO ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab. NO ACTION to return the land to customary landholders and NO ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

It is now 1,358 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 50 thousand square kilometres of land.

Since June 2013, more than three-and-a-half years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013, O’Neill said in 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 supposedly 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” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

And on November 4, 2016, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,358 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

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.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Why an ICAC is needed, not another fruitless inquiry

March 10, 2017 1 comment

Source: ACT NOW! 

The Prime Minister’s announcement of an Administrative Inquiry into the Manumanu land deals and naval base relocation is just another exercise in covering up corruption and avoiding justice.

We have seen numerous lengthy and expensive Commission’s of Inquiry over the years but no action to address the corrupt behavior they uncover. It will be the same with the latest inquiry, whether it is termed as a Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Inquiry.

This is because such inquiries lack a crucial power – the power to take action against those revealed to be involved in corruption; instead all they can do is make recommendations, recommendations that, history tells us, usually get ignored.

Such inquiries are also flawed because their initial timeframes and budgets are often insufficient when they uncover so much wrongdoing. This leads to delays and sometimes the inquiries end up taking several years. They can also lack political independence, being appointed directly by the Prime Minister, and their reports can be hard to access.

This is why Papua New Guinea desperately needs a well-funded Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) with the power to immediately investigate and prosecute allegations of corrupt behaviour.

The Government of Peter O’Neil was elected in 2012 on a promise to combat corruption at all levels through the establishment of an ICAC. It has failed to deliver on that promise, and instead it continues to waste public funds on administrative inquiries whose recommendations are usually never implemented, and sometimes, not even published.

In 2013, the Commission of Inquiry into Special Agricultural Business Lease recommended forty unlawful leases be revoked, but those recommendations continue to be ignored. Crucially the Commission also failed to report on one-third of the leases investigated and failed to identify with clarity the government officers responsible for the unlawful land grab or recommend action against them.

In 2014, there was the Commission of Inquiry into Law Firm Brief Outs, that report has never been published.

Prior to that, a Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance found K 780 million in public funds had been stolen and recommended the prosecution of a list of 35 persons.  Almost none of those persons have been arrested or charged.

And whatever happened to the Commission of Inquiry into the Investment Corporation, Defence Force Retirement Fund and National Provident Fund? Where are those reports now and why has so little action been taken?

Corruption in this country is prevalent in all sectors of society and its impacts are far-reaching! Corrupt activities are not just carried out by public office holders. It is really a collaborative effort of individuals from elected officials, appointed public and constitutional office holders, clergymen, civil servants, foreign and local companies, business associates and even family members of these individuals!

It is for this reason a well-resourced, self-funded, Independent Commission Against Corruption with wide powers is needed to investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals – not another pointless inquiry.

Filipino Multinational Serving up Condoms and Tuna to Papua New Guinean Consumers

March 10, 2017 5 comments

Do you enjoy condoms with your tuna? No? Best steer clear of RD Tuna Canners Ltd

For years we have known that the Filipino multinational RD Tuna, has no respect for Papua New Guinea workers.

The late anthropologist Nancy Sullivan, brought to light the company’s crimes against workers back in 2003:

‘Conditions in the Cannery are unhygienic and inhumane. Workers have no breaks, no clean or working toilets or showers, and labor under poor lighting and windless, hot conditions. Their sweat runs off onto the fish in the production area, and the spilled fish scraps are retrieved from a crumbling cement floor only to be lightly washed and processed. There are no provisions for gloves, hair nets, masks or gum boots, although these are available: in one of the meanest of Company policies, use of these basic sanitation and safety items are deducted from the workers pay. There have been documented cases of prostitution and gang rape of local women by Filipino nationals in both the Cannery and Wharf settings, as well as sales of illegally imported cigarettes and alcohol. No unions have been allowed until very recently… The wages are well below minimum national wage, and the hours unmonitored: most workers say they are forced to work over eight hours daily without overtime pay. There are also dubious practices of deducting NPF monies and Company transport fees from workers’ pay’.

We now have evidence that RD Tuna has been selling canned Tuna containing condoms. In 6 separate tort actions, outlined below, local consumers complain that they were made ill after discovering their RD Tuna product contained condom. In each case the court agreed.

Of course, not everyone feels ill at the sight of RD Tuna. Politicians in particular appear to have a healthy appetite for the company, so much so that they have declared the Madang region a Special Economic Zone – and even paid the company a cool K20 million for land to set up the zone on.

Meanwhile the company’s local workers and consumers have to chew on condoms, figuratively and literally speaking!

Mombi v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 28; N6645 (15 February 2017)

  1. On a day in the first half of 2006, probably 28 March or 28 May, John and Agnes Mombi purchased several unopened cans of Diana Tuna tinned fish from a retail outlet in Madang town, probably Rabtrad Trading.
  1. Those cans were manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that they be eventually available for sale to consumers, such as John and Agnes Mombi, at retail outlets, such as Rabtrad Trading.
  1. On the same day as purchasing the Diana Tuna, John and Agnes Mombi took the cans to their home at Wagol-Fikus, in Madang town.
  1. That evening, the task of preparing the evening meal was allocated to one of the Mombis’ six children, Rosina.
  1. At about 7.00 pm, as it was getting dark, Rosina boiled in separate pots, some rice and some kumu (aibika and spinach). She then emptied the contents of at least one of the Diana Tuna cans, which her parents had purchased earlier that day, into the kumu pot. She did not see or smell anything untoward.
  1. Agnes Mombi handed Rosina eight plates (one for each member of the family) and Rosina put servings of rice and kumu-and-tinned fish on each plate.
  1. All members of the family had commenced eating their food by the time that Rosina commenced eating hers.
  1. While eating, after several spoonfuls, Rosina felt something rubbery, like plastic, in her mouth. She pulled it out, checked it in the candlelight, which drew the attention of her father, John Mombi, who announced that it was a condom.
  1. It was in fact a condom, intact, that was in the tinned fish.
  1. All members of the family – the plaintiffs – saw the condom and were shocked. They all stopped eating. 
  1. The three youngest members of the family (Rosina, Barry and Max) were sent to bed, but they woke up, vomiting, around midnight. 
  1. All members of the family apart from John Mombi vomited as a result of consuming the food containing the condom. John Mombi felt sick but took betel nut to prevent himself vomiting. 
  1. All plaintiffs suffered shock upon discovery of the fact that they had consumed tinned fish that contained a condom.
  1. Soon afterwards, around 2.00 am, the whole family – all the plaintiffs – went to Modilon General Hospital, about two kilometres from their home, to get medical treatment. They walked there. Rosina, Barry and Max were carried by other family members. 
  1. On arrival at the hospital, Rosina, Barry and Max, the worst affected, were placed on IV drips and medicated. They were discharged at about 6.30 am. 
  1. Rosina, Barry and Max went to their school, Lutheran Day Primary, that morning but returned at lunchtime, feeling unwell. They did not return to school. 

 

Sengi v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 29; N6646 (15 February 2017)

  1. Around midday on Friday 20 January 2006 David Sengi of Giri village, Bogia District, purchased an unopened can of Diana Tuna tinned fish, probably a 380-gram size, and a loaf of bread, from a retail outlet in Madang town, the M & S Tsang retail store.
  1. David Sengi was with a number of other people from Giri village who had come into town to do their shopping. The group included the plaintiffs John Ray, Rex Fasi, Samuel Undonomo, Mono Ray, Elijah Brian and Kume Ray.
  1. The can was manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that it be eventually available for sale to consumers, such David Sengi, at retail outlets, including the M & S Tsang retail store.
  1. Immediately after purchasing the Diana Tuna, David Sengi, took the can and the loaf of bread to the nearby Bogia bus stop where plaintiff John Ray assumed the task of opening the can and making sandwiches for the group.
  1. He made the sandwiches by pouring a portion of tuna meat from the can on to various slices of bread.
  1. After he did that, John Ray drank soup from the can and then poured the remaining tuna meat on to his own slice of bread. After the meat came out, came a complete condom. 
  1. John Ray was shocked and alerted the other members of the group to the foreign object that had just come out of the can.
  1. David Sengi and other plaintiffs who have given evidence were shocked and confused and they proceeded in haste to the Madang Police Station, where they reported the finding and handed over the empty can to a police officer. The police advised them to go to the hospital as they appeared to be feeling unwell.
  1. David Sengi and other plaintiffs who have given evidence felt ill and some were physically ill and vomited. John Ray was the worst affected.
  1. From the police station they made their way by PMV to Modilon General Hospital, about two kilometres from the police station, to get medical treatment. 
  1. David Sengi and other plaintiffs who have given evidence rested, were treated and given medication upon their discharge from the emergency department later that afternoon. John Ray, being the worst affected, was placed on an IV drip. 

 

Donatus v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 30; N6647 (15 February 2017)

  1. On Saturday 4 March 2006 Eddie and Jennifer Donatus of Erima village, Rai Coast District, purchased three unopened 185-gram cans of Diana Tuna tinned fish, from a retail outlet in Madang town, the Rabtrad supermarket.
  1. The can was manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that it be eventually available for sale to consumers, such as Eddie and Jennifer Donatus, at retail outlets, including the Rabtrad supermarket.
  1. The following evening Jennifer Donatus prepared dinner for her husband, Eddie Donatus, their daughter Delailah Donatus and their relatives, Wei Angu and Leslie Angu, who live in the same house. 
  1. Jennifer boiled rice in one pot and in a separate pot boiled green vegetables. When the vegetables were ready she opened on the cans of tinned fish that had been purchased the previous day, into the greens, stirred the pot and when the mixture of greens and fish was hot, served it with the rice on five plates, for those present. 
  1. Jennifer Donatus, Delailah Donatus, Wei Angu and Leslie Angu finished their meal and found it nice. 
  1. Eddie Donatus was the last to eat. He digested three spoonfuls of the greens-and-fish mixture but spat out his third spoonful upon feeling something rubbery in his mouth. It was a condom.
  1. The condom had been in the can of tinned fish. All those present were shocked. 
  1. Eddie Donatus chewed betel nut to stop himself vomiting. It worked but he felt unwell. The others who consumed the food, which had become contaminated by the condom, were sick as a result of consuming it. 
  1. The next day, 6 March 2006, Eddie Donatus took the can from which the condom had emerged and the condom to the Police in Madang. He then laid a complaint at the RD Tuna cannery. He vomited and went back to Erima and gathered together the people who had been sick, and took them to Modilon General Hospital.
  1. The plaintiffs were observed and treated and medicated at the hospital. They were discharged after several hours’ observation. 

Birus v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 31; N6648 (15 February 2017

  1. On Friday 26 January 2007 Michael Birus of Erima village, Rai Coast District, purchased an unopened 380-gram can of Diana Tuna tinned fish, from a retail outlet in Madang town, the M & S Tsang retail store.
  1. The can was manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that it be eventually available for sale to consumers, such as Michael Birus and Ruth Nuali, at retail outlets, including the Rabtrad supermarket.
  1. That evening, the wife of Michael Birus, Ruth Nuali, prepared dinner for her husband and other members of their household, including their children, Barbara Ami, Jacob Ami and Naimen Kodua, then aged 10, 12 and 4 years respectively. 
  1. Ruth boiled rice in one pot and in a separate pot boiled green vegetables. When the vegetables were ready she opened the 380-gram can of tinned fish that had been purchased earlier that day, into the greens, stirred the pot and when the mixture of greens and fish was hot, served it with the rice on various plates, for those present. 
  1. Ruth and the children finished their meal and found nothing wrong with it. 
  1. Michael Birus was the last to eat. He digested several spoonfuls of the greens-and-fish mixture but stopped eating upon feeling something rubbery in his mouth. It was a condom.
  1. The condom had been in the can of tinned fish. All those present were shocked. 
  1. Michael Birus chewed betel nut to stop himself vomiting. It worked but he felt unwell. The others who consumed the food, which had become contaminated by the condom, were sick as a result of consuming it. 
  1. The next day, 27 January 2007, Michael Birus took his wife and the children to Modilon General Hospital for treatment.
  1. The plaintiffs Michael Birus and Ruth Nuali were observed and treated and medicated at the hospital.

 

Bill v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 32; N6649 (15 February 2017)

I therefore make the following findings:

  1. On Friday 30 March 2007 Luke Peter of Gov Stoa, Madang town purchased an unopened can of Diana Tuna tinned fish, from a retail outlet in Madang town, the Best Buy retail store.
  1. The can was manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that it be eventually available for sale to consumers, such as Luke Peter, at retail outlets, including the Best Buy store.
  1. That evening, Luke Peter’s son, Peter Marshall, assisted by Peter’s friends, the plaintiffs Hendrick James (aka Emrick James) and Justin Wake, prepared dinner for themselves and Luke Peter, at Gov Stoa. 
  1. Peter Marshall boiled rice in a pot and once it was cooked, he opened the can of Diana Tuna that Luke Peter had purchased earlier that day. He noticed that, together with the fish meat, the can had a condom in it. He was shock, felt unwell and vomited.
  1. Luke Peter, Hendrick James (aka Emrick James) and Justin Wake had a similar reaction. Though none of them ate any of the fish, the sight of the condom shocked them and the thought of eating tinned fish contaminated by a condom, made them feel ill. They all vomited. 
  1. The next day, 31 March 2007, Luke Peter reported the matter to the police, the health inspector and Modilon General Hospital.

Kaipa v RD Tuna Canners Ltd [2017] PGNC 33; N6650 (15 February 2017)

  1. On Thursday 9 February 2006 Steven Kaipa and Betty Kaipa purchased an unopened 185-gram can of Diana Tuna tinned fish, from a retail outlet in Madang town, the Best Buy retail store.
  1. The can was manufactured by the defendant at its cannery near Madang and sold by the defendant, probably to an intermediary, with the intention that it be eventually available for sale to consumers, such as Steven Kaipa and Betty Kaipa, at retail outlets, including the Best Buy store.
  1. That evening, Steven Kaipa and Betty Kaipa’s daughter, Susie Kaipa prepared dinner for the family at their home at Clifton Police Barracks. 
  1. Susie Kaipa boiled rice and greens and was about to pour the can of tinned fish, which she had opened, into a frying pan when she notice that, together with the fish meat, the can had a condom in it. She was shocked and screamed hysterically.
  1. Steven Kaipa and Betty Kaipa were sitting close to the kitchen and upon hearing their daughter scream, rushed to the kitchen and saw what their daughter was screaming about: a condom on top of the fish. 
  1. Though none of them ate any of the fish, the sight of the condom shocked them and the thought of eating tinned fish contaminated by a condom, made them feel ill and confused and worried. 
  1. The next day, 10 February 2006, Steven Kaipa reported the matter to the police, the health inspector and Modilon General Hospital.
  1. The family members, in particular Betty Kaipa, were subsequently the subject of ridicule in the local community as they came to be known as consumers of condoms in tinned fish and this affected Betty Kaipa’s income earning capacity. 

Police complaint against Ministers over Madang land deals

March 9, 2017 1 comment

Nixon Duban (left) and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Source: Radio New Zealand

A lawyer in the Papua New Guinea city of Madang has laid a criminal complaint over alleged breaches of process by government ministers in a land deal.

Minister of Lands Benny Allan and Minister of Petroleum & Energy Nixon Duban have been accused of conspiring to attempt to unlawfully acquire two slabs of prime public land in Madang.

Bryan Kramer, who laid a complaint with Madang police, said the ministers circumvented a number of required processes in the land deal.

He claimed the awarding of the title by the Lands Minister was illegal, and that a National Physical Planning board failked to consult the provincial planning board when it rezoned the land.

“So then they had rezoned both pieces of land for commercial use, and then the Minister issued a directive, exercising his powers to grant the land directly to a company that is directly associated with Nixon Duban. When I looked at the instruments, I established that the minister had no such powers to make that decision, and he even invoked the wrong provisions of the law.”

He said he doesn’t expect the police to look far into this case, based on previous lack of action over a bribery case in the court of disputed election returns which found Mr Duban guilty.

Last month, PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill announced that two other cabinet ministers were standing aside pending a probe into their involvement in another allegedly fraudulent land deal.

The Minister for Defence Fabian Pok and Minister for State Enterprises William Duma are alleged to have committed the fraud in relation to a land deal for a purported PNG naval base relocation.

It has emerged that the state-owned asset holding company Kumul Consolidated Holdings paid a company closely linked with Mr Duma US$14million to purchase land at Manumanu in Central Province.

Mr O’Neill ordered the Police Commissioner to look into the allegation, and has signalled that there will be a Commission of Inquiry to examine the allegations around the land deal.

Both ministers in the allegedly-criminal land deal in Madang are members of Mr O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party.

See further: 

Madang to lose iconic green spaces in APEC land grab

Key government Minister to benefit from bulldozing of Madang parks

PNG Minister and Chinese Woman exposed in illegal land grab

Further allegations regarding Minister Duban’s dodgy land deals

Jimmy Maladina’s Australian silk recruited by PM O’Neill to lead Duma/Pok inquiry

March 8, 2017 2 comments

Having promised a Commission of Inquiry, under the predicted Chairmanship of (Rtd) Judge Graham Ellis, who cut his teeth in the National and Supreme Court during the 1990s, working a number of high profile anti-corruption inquiries, PM O’Neill has been in reverse gear ever since. 

This culminated first in an announcement by the Attorney General, that his government had somehow overlooked court proceedings barring any Commission of Inquiry from being convened.

John Griffin QC

Then we learnt yesterday that an ‘administrative inquiry’ would be convened, under the leadership of John Griffin QC.

John Griffin QC is most well-known for dashing the hopes of the country, when he managed to secure for his client Jimmy Maladina, a suspended sentence after the latter confessed to misappropriating K2.65 million during his tenure as Chairman of the National Provident Fund, a time when he was joined at the corporate hip to Peter O’Neill. The court let Maladina go with a suspended 8 year sentence, and a 2 year good behaviour bond. On the other hand, a middle man Maladina acted through received 6 years prison.

Later Griffin managed to get even Maladina’s conviction overturned by the Court, despite the fact Maladina ‘admitted freely that he had committed the offence’.

Given Jimmy Maladina declared himself bankrupt, and claims to have sold off his Australian properties to pay restitution – it can only be assumed Maladina has good friends who could pay for a silk of Griffin’s stature.

However, with a budget of K2 million for this ‘administrative inquiry’ into Duma/Pok, paying for high priced silks will not be a problem.

We are told the inquiry began on 7 March, and will continue for 4 weeks, with a finishing date of 28 March. Ahem, that’s actually 3 weeks!

For this 3 week work period,  the commission will have a budget of K666,666 – perhaps an appropriate enough sum! Even if the entire commission team furiously shovelled kina into an open fire, they couldn’t physically burn this sum of cash in three weeks.

If we assume Griffin QC is paid K85,000 per week – the sort of sum a QC fetches – that gets us through K255,000 over the three week period. You would need a team of 8 QCs working around the clock to expend this K2 million budget.

We assume in the interests of ‘accountability and transparency’, to quote the PM, he will publish the inquiry’s budget in full?

As we watch O’Neill’s stance over Manumanu dilute on a daily basis, it must be asked – did the PM overplay his original hand against Duma and Pok, and are we now seeing all parties backtrack so they can resume cordial relations at the top of the trough following this year’s national elections?