Home > Corruption, Land, Logging, Papua New Guinea > No action to revoke illegal SABL leases while logging industry man Pruaitch in charge

No action to revoke illegal SABL leases while logging industry man Pruaitch in charge

A cartoon from 2003 depicting Rimbunan Hijau control over PNG politicians

Patrick Pruaitch is one of many Rimbunan Hijau puppets in Papua New Guinea

There will be no action to revoke illegal SABL leases while Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch remains in charge of the Prime Minister’s response to the huge land grab.

Pruaitch has been a staunch defender of the logging industry for more than a decade and has been directly involved in many of its corrupt and illegal deals

In particular, Pruaitch is a committed supporter of Rimbunan Hijau, the biggest beneficiary of the illegal SABL land grab. Pruaitch has been personally implicated in many of RH’s illegal logging deals over the past decade – as we reveal below thanks to the investigations of Masalai i Tokaut.

The Prime Minister has appointed a Task Force of three Ministers headed by Pruaitch together with Benny Allen and Tommy Tomscoll to implement the SABL Commission of Inquiry recommendation that 66 of 72 SABL leases be revoked because they are illegal.

But six months after its appointment the Task Force has not revoked a single illegal lease and the reasons for its inaction are obvious.The primary beneficiary of the illegal leases are foreign logging companies who are using the leases as cover for their fraudulent logging operations.

The Commission of Inquiry found that:

With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’

In 2012 alone the value of the logs stolen for illegal SABL lease areas was K172 million – and that is just the value of the raw logs. Once sawn into rough timber the value of the logs multiplies four or five times.

Patrick Pruaitch been heavily involved in the corrupt world of the logging industry since been appointed Forest Minister by Michael Somare after the 2002 election.  Since then Pruaitch has personally orchestrated many of the corrupt and illegal deals – many of them involving Rimbunan Hijau.

Pruaitch was a much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch was much slimmer before he started feasting off Rimbunan Hijau

Pruaitch first came to attention in 2003 when the State conveniently paid K150,000 to the lawyer Pruaitch had used in a private matter defending himself against an election petition. The lawyer, Joseph Yagi, was also the lawyer for controversial logging company Concord Pacific which had an extensive illegal operation in Western Province. Read more – Ministers lawyer paid by the State.

As Forest Minister Pruaitch then refused to take any action after an internal government inquiry reveled six new illegal logging deals, the largest three of which involved Rimbunan Hijau – The Robber Barons are still here. Pruaitch also personally rejected a decision of the National Forest Board to award a new logging concession to a non Rimbunan Hijau subsidiary – Forest Minister Pruaitch beyond the law – and intervened to stop the Forest Board discussing sanctions against RH for illegal and unsustainable logging – Forest Minister Unlawfully Intervenes.

In January 2004, Pruaitch’s defence of an illegal logging operation in New Ireland was exposed as being full of lies and misinformation – Ministers explanation full of lies. Later the same year Pruaitch was exposed for lying to Parliament – Forest Minister lied to Parliament.

In 2005 an internal Forest Authority audit report found Patrick Pruaitch had stolen more than K20,000 from the public purse through double-dipping. The auditors described the Ministers conduct as “dishonest, unethical and improper’ – Ministers conduct dishonest and corrupt.

In 2006 it was revealed how Rimbunan Hijau was even writing Pruaitch’s media releases as Minister –

Other examples of the close relationship between Pruaitch and the illegal operations of Rimbunan Hijau are revealed in:

Given this appalling history is it any wonder that no action has been taken by the O’Neill government to revoke the illegal SABL leases?

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  1. JUDY
    March 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Shall we wait for the changes when he is dead and gone?People of PNG are fed up with likes of that man,cant anything be done to throw him of the cliff face..just fed up with this fat cows!

  2. Dansi
    March 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    as far as the mind can comprehend, what category can such people be put into? not a faintest heart for the people being deceived ‘hook line and sinker’ by greedy heartless people who hide behind the entities…

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