Home > Corruption, Land, Logging, oil palm, Papua New Guinea > SABL Case Study No.9: Continental Venture and the Middle Ramu

SABL Case Study No.9: Continental Venture and the Middle Ramu

December 11, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 2: Pages 867-899

Continental Ventures Limited “failed completely to ensure transparency and good governance in its dealings with the landowners of the SABL project area.” [p875].

“We make adverse findings against Mr Simon Malo for being so reckless in his handling of the land Investigation Report” [p886]

“The blank LIR basically … ultimately nullifies the SABL lease” [p886]

“I find that Mr Daink [Deputy Secretary Department of Agriculture] should be held accountable for approving a plan that is not feasible to implement… this Desktop document was designed to fool state agencies responsible for proper vetting and in this case DAL failed in its duties” [p898]

“The C.O.I. is also critical on the role of the Director of Environment in not conducting any due diligence on whether the SABL title has been issued and also if there was DAL approval to the Board of PNG Forest Authority to approve FCA for the project”. [p892]

“Given the lack of relevant state agency cooperation and production of information pertaining to this project we are unable to ascertain the current state of affairs…” [p880]

“The C.O.I recommends revocation of SABL Portion 16C because the fundamental requirement… was fundamentally flawed and is null and void” [p898]

This case study covers the Special Agriculture and Business Lease over Portion 16C in Madang Province.

The SABL covers 112,400 hectares of customary land in the Savai and Annaberg areas of the Middle Ramu in Madang Province.

The area is very remote and “means of excess is very difficult and the only means is by foot using local bush tracks otherwise using helicopter” [p873]

The area is owned by 11 landowner groups consisting of about 500 members.

A SABL over Portion 16C was issued to Urasir Resources Limited (URL) for a term of 99 years in March 2011 by Romilly Kil-Pat.

The purpose of the lease was stated as agricultural business for oil palm and other commercial crops for export purposes. As the lease area is “one of the most remote and least developed areas of Madang province” [p883] and only accessible on foot or by helicopter this seems rather ludicrous.

Urasir Resources was incorporated in September 2011 with a registered address and postal address in the National Capital District. This landowner company had ten shareholders from the Middle Ramu each with one share. They were also the Directors of the company.

Continental Venture Limited (CVL) is the ‘development partner’. It is “owned solely by Malaysian nationals” [p881] “CVL is owned by Mr Hien Ming Wong” [p882] although it seems Giant Kingdom International Limited is the principal shareholder [p882]. The company is registered in the British Virgin Islands.

A sub-lease was granted “whereby CVL was given absolute power and rights to the exclusion of the landowner company … Control of operations was vested in CVL by virtue of both the project development agreement and sublease agreement” [p880]

The sublease to CVL “is for a period of 66 years… at a rent of K2 per hectare per annum” [p896]

CVL “initiated and funded” [p874] an “illegal meeting” [p875] to remove the Chairman and Director of URL and insert a new landowner faction.

CVL”failed completely to ensure transparency and good governance in its dealings with the landowners of the SABL project area.” [p875].

Evidence was given to the inquiry that landowners were forced to sign papers in the night without knowing what they were signing.

Rodney Robin Bakou (or Bakon or Bako) is the General Manager for CJV. “The very divisive and [sic] Mr Bako should be investigated if he has breached any laws with respect to employment and residency permit” [p883]

“He was the main driver of the split between the Landgroups [sic]” [p883]

CVL has the SABL title and ILG certificate and is actively pursuing necessary approvals from Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Department of Environment (DEC) and PNGFA.

The Land Investigation Report is unsigned and includes an unsigned schedule of owners. The Agency Agreement and Declaration as to Custom have been signed (although not by everyone). The LIR was undertaken by Simon Malu and Simon Holis as acting Managers Customary Land Acquisitions, and Christabel Maino, Lands Officer.

“The Land Investigation Report advice offered by Mr Simon Malo … was in my view reckless, negligent, that behaviour unbecoming of a senior officer… We consider this to be in breach of the Code of Conduct of public servants evidently compromising the integrity of the SABL process.” [p886]

“He should be disciplined for the role he played in preparing a blank LIR bearing no signature and … no reservation made for the customary rights over land to continue” [p886]

“The Land Investigation Report and the Recommendation for Alienability was not referred to the Custodian of Trust land for due diligence. There was no Certificate of Alienability issued by the Custodian of Trust Land to allow for the registration and issuance of the SABL title.” [p887]

DAL submitted a bound volume of documents titled “Detailed Agriculture Development”, apparently submitted to DAL by CVL. The plan included forest clearance and oil palm and rubber plantations over 91,830 hectares.

“We deduce … the detailed Agriculture Development Plan … submitted to DAL … was insufficient…” [p888]

However, in a letter dated March 2011, DAL informed CVL that its Agriculture Development Plan was approved and, subject to a public hearing be conducted, a certificate of compliance for forest clearance could be issued.

The Malaysian consultant who produced the plan for CVL never visited the site. [p897]

“The plan in itself was not prepared in consultation with relevant authorities and lacks quality in terms of its overall implementation schedules… the difficult terrain and lack of road infrastructure was a major feat for CVL to conquer” [p898]

“The C.O.I is very critical of CVLs behaviour in preparation of the Plans” [p897]

“Mr Daink [Deputy Secretary DAL] should be held accountable for approving a plan that is not feasible to implement … this Desktop document was designed to fool state agencies responsible for proper vetting and in this case DAL failed in its duties””

CVL submitted an Environmental Permit application to DEC in 2010, before the SABL was issued – “we find this practice to be highly irregular and inconsistent with the process under .. the Forest Act 2000” [p892]

DEC approved the Environment Inception Report and accepted the Environmental Impact Statement from CVL despite the fact at that time there was no SABL, no DAL approval and no FCA from the Forest Authority.

“The C.O.I. is also critical on the role of the Director of Environment in not conducting any due diligence on whether the SABL title has been issued and also if there was DAL approval to the Board of PNG Forest Authority to approve FCA for the project”. [p892]

“The C.O.I recommends revocation of SABL Portion 16C because the fundamental requirement of the Land Investigation Process, the grant under Section 11,,, and subsequently the registration and the Issuance of Title… was fundamentally flawed and is null and void” [p898]

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  1. January 13, 2014 at 7:13 am

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