New Ireland businessman Walter Schnaubelt is the mastermind behind the illegal Konoagil logging operation – which has swung into full operation despite a complete lack of informed consent from local forest owners.
Schnaubelt has carefully tried to keep his name off the official documentation but his fingerprints are all over the companies used to front the operations and obtain the leases and forestry permits.
Konoagil Agri Development Limited (KADL) is the central corporate vehicle for the whole operation and its name has featured prominently in the media where it is incorrectly described as a ‘landowner company’.
KAHL was registered in February 2014. Schnaubelt does not appear as a director or shareholder of the company – but the devil, as they say, is in the detail. The application to register KADL, see image below, was submitted to the Investment Promotion Authority by a company called Walan Limited.
Walan Limited is wholly owned by Walter Schnaubelt. He is also the sole director. So, KADL, the central vehicle for the Konoagil logging operation, was set up by Walter Schnaubelt.
KADL has two directors, Benson Malaibe of Semalu village in New Ireland and Philip Tuanusi of Maliom village, and is 100% owned by another company, Laka Forest Development Limited (LFDL).
LFDL was registered in December 2013. Again, the application to register the company, see image below, was submitted to the Investment Promotion Authority by Walan Limited, the company wholly owned by Walter Schnaubelt.
So, not only did Walter Schnaubelt set up KADL, the central vehicle for the Konoagil logging operation, he also set up LFDL, the company that owns KADL.
Laka Forest Development Limited is, in turn, 50% owned by a Leslie Woo of Kokopo through his company WA Holdings. The other 50% of KAHL is owned jointly by the Lak and Kandas Landowners Associations – who obtained their shares, in March 2014, from Benson Malaibe and Philip Tuanusi (the original shareholders). Benson Malaibe and Philip Tuanusi are both directors of LFDL.
Lak Landowners Association (LLA) was registered on 2 May 2014 by Philip Tuanuasi [sic] and Kandas Landowners Association (KLA), on the same day, by Benson Malaibe (remember Philip and Benson are directors of both KAHL and LFDL, two companies set up by Walter Schnaubelt). The applicant for registration of both the landowner associations was Alfred Kurabi of Konos village (Chairman of LLA). Benson Malaibe is the Chairman for KLA.
So Walter Schnaubelt set up Konoagil Agri Development Limited and he set up Laka Forest Development Limited which owns Konoagil Agri Development Limited. He installs Benson Malaibe and Philip Tuanusi as directors of the two companies and they then register the Lak and Kandas Landowner Associations which own 50% of Laka Forest Development Limited!
Not content with just spinning the corporate web, Walter Schnoubelt also controls the Lak and Kandas Landowner Associations, as revealed in their meeting minutes which show Schnoubelt as the main speaker, directing the meetings and telling the committees what they need to do.
It should also be noted that although LLA, KLA and WA Holdings (Leslie Woo) all acquired their shares in Laka Forest Development in March 2014, at that time, none of the three shareholders legally existed. WA Holdings was not registered as a company until May 2014, the same month that LLA and KLA were registered.
Laka Forest Development Limited itself is the sole shareholder in two other companies that form part of the Schnaubelt web, Konoagil Health Services Limited and Konoagil Retail and Wholesale Limited. Both companies were registered in May 2016, with Malaibe and Tuanusi as the Directors.
There is fourth Konoagil company – Konoagil Finance Limited – registered in August 2015 by Walter Schnaubel [sic]. This company does have Schnaubelt up front on the documentation, and with some interesting company!
Konoagil Finance Limited (KFL) has three directors, Walter Schnaubelt, John Numa and Wari Iamo (former National Forest Board member and Secretary of the Department of Environment implicated in various corruption scandals). KFL is jointly owned by SOS Security and Walan Limited. Both SOS and Walan are solely owned by Walter Schnaubelt and have combined assets of over K12 million.
Last week we revealed Petroleum Minister and Madang MP, Nixon Duban, has conspired to have two controversial commercial leases over prime green spaces allocated to a company to which he has close family ties.
The leases, covering almost 8 hectares, will allow the construction of a ‘mega mall’ on Cleland Park and offices and houses on the green-space opposite the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Madang.
Duban personally wrote to the Lands Minister lobbying for the leases to be granted to a company, Dawan Investment for which his sister is treasurer and vice-chair. The company was set up by his electoral officer and is jointly owed by one of his family and one of his staff.
Now, new allegations have been raised over those deals, that involved re-zoning of the land before it could be leased. It is alleged the re-zoning was done by the National Physical Planning Board in Port Moresby without the knowledge and consent of the Madang Provincial Physical Planning Board.
It is alleged this was done after a meeting was held in the middle of the year at the Madang Lodge between Francis Duban, Francis Irara, the Provincial Lands Officer, and a woman from the Lands Department in Port Moresby, known for her involvement in dodgy land deals.
The chairman of the Madang Provincial Physical Planning Board has sent a please explain letter to the Chief Physical Planner in Port Moresby, protesting the award of the leases to Dawan Investment and asking why his board’s function was usurped by the National board.
It is believed the Chief Physical Planner has already taken that letter to the National Board but in response ‘their silence has been deafening’.
In a blatant abuse of position, MP for Madang and Minister for Petroleum, Nixon Duban, has successfully lobbied for two controversial commercial leases to be granted to a company, Dawan Investment, to which he has strong personal ties.
Nixon Duban is a member of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People National Congress party and a former executive officer for the PM.
Nixon Duban’s sister, Debbie Duban is the treasurer and vice-chair of Dawan Investment, the beneficiary of the leases:
Dawan Investment was set up in 2013 by Nixon Duban’s electoral officer, Collins Iwap. Iwap signed the application for the registration of Dawan Investment and was initially a company Director:
Dawan Investment is 50% owned by Stanley Kaut, who works in Nixon Duban’s Ministerial office and 50% by Lamak Katit, a relative of the Minister.
Dawan Investment has its registered address at Section 33, Allotment 01, Sogeri Road, Port Moresby. An address it shares with another company, Penquin Real Estate for which Barbara Ali Duban is a director. Lamak Katit also owns 50% of Penquin Real Estate.
None of these connections were revealed by Nixon Duban when he wrote personally wrote to Lands Minister Benny Allen, urging him to grant two commercial leases over 8 hectares of Cleland Park and 2 hectares of green space opposite the Holy Spirit Cathedral and consent to the leases being transferred to Dawan Investment:
The leases were duly granted by Minister, Benny Allen on December 8th.
It is not known whether Nixon Duban ever declared his interest in Dawan Investment to the Madang District Development Authority, but it seems very strange Dawan has been entrusted by the Authority with the development of a ‘Mega Mall’, ‘office complexes’ and ‘residences’ for the APEC summit, when the company has a paid up share capital of just K2,000, has never filed an annual return and has no declared assets and no declared staff…
Anyone who switched on the television, radio or internet yesterday, would have been confronted with bold government announcements of a new tourism city, which will be built by Paga Hill Development Company, under the watchful gaze of its CEO Gudmundur Fridriksson.
The National (aka The Loggers Times) tells us the project ‘will have a hotel, serviced apartments, tourism and business facilities, residences, marina and a casino’.
It will also include a tourism school where pupils will evidently learn about ‘the importance of tourism’
We are told this will Public-Private Partnership will make Port Moresby the envy of the Pacific. But will it?
Lets look at the track record of Gudmundur Fridriksson. Anyone remember this iconic fun park at Paga Hill spearheaded by Fridriksson?
Or what about this book?
You won’t find it in the bookshop anytime soon. While Sean Dorney found the book to be full of errors, Fridriksson’s company was paid K2.5 million by the national government, a price tag that was said by Dorney to be 5 x the market rate.
So if history is anything to go by this will be an expensive white elephant, that will be more mirage than reality.