Home > Corruption, Land, Papua New Guinea > An Open Letter to the Australian Federal Police: The Tjoeng family and Garamut Enterprises

An Open Letter to the Australian Federal Police: The Tjoeng family and Garamut Enterprises

Commissioner Andrew Colvin
Australian Federal Police
GPO Box 401
Canberra ACT 2601

Dear Sir

RE:    Mr Daniel M.E. Tjoeng. James N.E Tjoeng, Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng and Foeng Tjoeng and their illegal activities in Papua New Guinea

Given the Australian Federal Police recognises corruption undermines fair competition and can have disastrous consequences for developing economies;

Given the AFP is proactively seeking to address global fraud and corruption issues including foreign bribery;

Given the existing AFP Mission to Papua New Guinea under the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership and its focus on fraud and anti-corruption including financial intelligence;

Given the Australian government spends $577 million a year on aid to PNG and the effectiveness of that spending is undermined by corruption and fraud.

Given that two of the key areas that Australian aid is spent on are law & justice, and governance;

We wish to bring to your attention the involvement of four Australian citizens and their family business in illegal activity in PNG.

Mr Daniel M.E. Tjoeng. James N.E Tjoeng, Mr. Matthew W.E. Tjoeng and Foeng Tjoeng are the shareholders and directors of the PNG registered company, Garamut Enterprises.

Daniel holds 13.5% of the shares in the company, James 13.5%, Foeng 5% and Matthew holds 17.5% of the shares. The other shareholders are all members of the Tjoeng family. The four named gentlemen, together with Robert T.E. Tjoeng  are the Directors of the company. Foeng and James Tjoeng are also listed as company secretaries.. Clearly, 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 [2000] 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 [2014] 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 we would kindly request the AFP to investigate the activities of the four named persons and their involvement in illegal activity in PNG.

Yours faithfully

On behalf of The People of Papua New Guinea

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