An Open Letter to APEC: Matthew W.E Tjoeng and Garamut Enterprises
Mr. Antonio I. Basilio
Director APEC Business Advisory Council
32/F, Zuellig Building
Makati Avenue Corner Paseo de Roxas
Makati City 1225 Philippines
Dr Alan Bollard
35 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
RE: APEC Business Advisory Council Member Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng
Given the APEC Leaders strong stand on fighting corruption as evidenced in their recent Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption;
Given the APEC Leaders recognition that corruption impedes economic sustainability and development, threatens social security and fairness, undermines the rule of law, and erodes government accountability, as well as public trust;
Given the APEC Leaders continued commitments to combat corruption across all sectors, including public sector and private sector, in the Asia Pacific region;
We wish to bring to your attention the antecedents background of the APEC Business Advisory Council member for Papua New Guinea, Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng.
Mr Tjoeng is a shareholder and director of the PNG registered company, Garamut Enterprises. Mr. Tjoeng holds 17.5% of the shares in the company. The other shareholders are all members of Mr. Tjoeng’s family. Mr. Matthew Tjoeng shares the Board with four other members of the Tjoeng family. Garamut Enterprises is a Tjoeng family owned and controlled company.
Garamut Enterprises has been exposed in official investigations and reports in Papua New Guinea as being involved in at least fives instances of illegal activity – two involving illegal payments and three illegal land transactions:
- ONE: Garamut received K28,000 illegally paid out of the government’s Cocoa Stabilization Fund without Ministerial approval.
Source: Report of the Auditor General 2010. Download as a pdf
- TWO: Garamut received K137, 797 illegally paid for ‘Pagui Ambunti District Treasury Office Building’. The payment did not follow procurement process. Information and accounting documentation was not available.
Source: Public Accounts Committee Report to Parliament on the Inquiry into the Sepik Highways, Roads and Bridges Maintenance and other Infrastructure Trust Account. Download as a pdf
- THREE: Garamut was granted a state lease over Portion 2399 by the Lands Department despite the fact this is substantially customary land situated at the top of Burns Peak. The lease was illegally exempted from advertisement which meant no competitive tender and no revenue to the State.
Source: Public Accounts Committee Report to Parliament on the Inquiry into the Department of Land and Physical Planning.
- FOUR: Garamut was granted a business commercial lease over Lot 23, Section 71, Hohola in 1999, which was originally zoned open space. The NCD Physical Planning Board had initially rejected the application, claiming it was too close to residents, and should be developed as a public park. The Minister for Lands overruled the Board and the lease was eventually granted. Judge Sheehan has stated:
“From the time Garamut’s application was lodged the processing of the application failed totally to follow the requirements of the Land Act. The breaches were gross, a travesty, to the extent that it can be said the Act was not followed at all. But further, to the extent that the Minister made a disposition of State land which was not open to scrutiny but removed from the public without the sanction of the Act, granted private access to State land, conferring an advantage, particularly a commercial advantage on a single applicant without reason, the grant clearly is not only outside the scope and purposes of the Act, unreasonable and unlawful, it is a fraud on the Act itself. The grant in fact was a nullity and no lease, no interest in land, no title was issued in accordance with the Act”.
Source: Steamships Trading Company Ltd v Minister For Lands and Physical Planning  PGNC 11. Available online
- FIVE: Garamut was granted a lease over customary land (Portion 2585) in 2008 through an Urban Development Lease. Judge Kandakasi has stated:
“Despite the lack of any acquisition by the State of Portion 2585, people in the Department of Lands facilitated and enable the grant of the UDL in favour of Garamut over Portion 2585. In so doing those who were responsible in my view, did so fraudulently against the traditional or customary owners of the land. Sitting in the National and Supreme Courts for a while now, I have come across more cases of possible fraud facilitated by the Registrar of Titles and other officers of the Department of Lands. This must stop and the only way to do that is to have proper investigations and those responsible being criminally charged and proceeded with. I would therefore strongly recommend (since I cannot direct the police) that the police take the relevant and necessary steps right away”.
Source: Loa v Kimas  PGNC 209. Available online
It is also noted that Garamut Enterprises is registered in PNG as a ‘local company’ despite 86.5% of its shares being held by Australian citizens.
In the light of the above facts Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng is clearly not a fit and proper person to serve on the APEC Business Advisory Council. Further, by occupying that role Mr. Tjoeng undermines the APEC commitments to fighting corruption.
On behalf of The People of Papua New Guinea