Posts Tagged ‘Bewani oil palm’

Duma Scandal Thickens – The Fox is in the Henhouse

February 6, 2017 5 comments


When PNG Blogs exposed the Duma scandal, in which the Minister is alleged to have personally benefited from K50 million paid by the State to relocate the Lancron naval base, it was hard to know where to begin analysing the affair. There were so many angles!

Over the weekend we exposed the corrupt background of the man appointed by the Prime Minister to supposedly investigate the Duma affair – Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari.

Now it is time for another instalment.

It is alleged that one of Duma’s accomplices in the K50 million fraud was Phillip Eludeme and PNG Blogs has suggested that Eludeme received K16.5 million for his role in facilitating the scam.

Eludeme is the Chairman of the Central Supply and Tender Board, arguably one of the country’s most important national bodies. It can either be a guard against corruption if run properly, or a mechanism for corruption if abused.

So who would you appoint to Chair such an important Board, which safeguards hundreds of millions in public money? Probably not one of the leading stars in the National Provident Fund Commission of Inquiry, who is alleged to have supplied a K100,000 bribe to the Lands Minister. But this is exactly what happened.

The scandal centred on, Waim No.92, which on paper was owned by Phillip Mamando and Philip Eludeme. The commission argued both were proxy shareholders for none other than Jimmy Maladina, Chairman of the National Provident Fund. The conspiracy, the Commission of Inquiry argued was to acquire a plot of land in Waigani for a discounted price and then sell it on to the NPF at an inflated sum. 

The Commission claims Eludeme was a key fixer in this corrupt deal, ‘prior to the Land Board hearing, Mr Eludeme had approached [Lands] Minister Seravo seeking favourable consideration for Waim No. 92’s application and, at Mr Seravo’s request, had performed, free of charge, accountancy services for Minister Seravo valued at K100,000’. The Commission adds: ‘The records of the Land Board indicate it notified Waim No. 92 that it had been recommended as the successful applicant and on September 28, 1998, Waim No. 92 received notice that a corruptly reduced purchase price of K1,724,726.10 was payable before title would issue, with annual rent to be K17,000 (instead of the legally correct amounts of K2,866,000 and K143,000 respectively)’.

Interestingly, Eludeme’s company at the centre of the NPF Commission of Inquiry, registered office at the time was Ram Business Consultants – Eludeme’s personal registered address was the same company.

Ram Business Consultants was another player at the centre of the NPF inquiry. In addition to this its principal, Rex Paki, was also one of the initial shareholders in the Paga Hill Estate.

National Court records indicate William Duma was involved in a land-grab that will greatly benefit from this proposed ‘tourism city’ at Paga Hill. He has also acted as Director in Malaga No.7 Limited, which is owned by Paga Hill Development Company.

In addition to the NPF scandal, Eludeme also featured in the SABL Commission of Inquiry, owing to his involvement in a company at the centre of the Bewani oil palm and logging scam – a major fraud involving 140,000 hectares of customary land, discussed in detail on PNG Echo blog.

According to the SABL CoI, one of the companies involved in the scam, Bewani Palms Management Limited was owned by Philip Eludeme and he was also a director, alongside Charles Litau, John Wuni and Bob Namah.

It appears birds of a feather flock together. 

More on Namah, the Bewani SABL land grab and Jimmy Tse

December 9, 2013 Leave a comment
Belden Namah and Jimmy Tse: You scratch my back…

Opposition Leader

What could the Opposition Leader possibly owe businessman, Jimmy Tse that would see him facilitating Tse’s considerable enrichment to the detriment of the people of Papua New Guinea…and not just once?

By PNG Echo.

The recently exposed Telikom land deal and the Bewani palm oil project both share the involvement of businessman Jimmy Tse and the Opposition Leader, Belden Norman Namah.

In a complicated web of intrigue and double dealing, Tse and Namah were seemingly acting in cahoots although it’s not immediately apparent which man has the starring role and which is the bit player, nor at what point in time this unholy alliance was forged.

The Telikom deal

With typical misguided grandiosity, Namah reminded the nation that when the original Telikom deal was sealed by Henry and Jimmy Tse for PNG Land Ltd, he was “…paying the sacrifice for the nation and its 7 and a half million people in gaol, in Bomana.”

Jimmy Tse was front and centre of the Telikom deal from the beginning – but it was only when he was having trouble completing the particularly lucrative contract, almost a decade later, that his, by then, business associate, Belden Norman Namah, rode in like a knight in shining armour and ensured that the deal went through.

This is notwithstanding that the sale represented a huge monetary loss to the seven and a half million people of Papua New Guinea to the benefit of Mr Tse, with whom Namah’s allegiances seemed to lie.

In Parliament recently, Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, queried the sale of the land to PNG Land Ltd, for K4.3 million when the land was valued by two separate entities at K32 million and K75.6 million respectively (2012).

Especially concerning was that, according to IPBC Managing Director Wasantha Kumarasiri, the sale was in breach of Section 46 of the IPBC Act that states that a state-owned enterprise must not sell or lease any land for a consideration over K1 million without IPBC approval.  If there was none, the sale was wrong from the get go, and it seems there wasn’t.

Influential people opposed the sale, so for Tse’s champion, Belden Namah, all was not ‘plain sailing’.

Peter Loko, Managing Director of Telikom resisted the Ministerial directive from the Acting Public Enterprise Minister (Namah) to complete the sale.

But Namah was determined.

Loko paid the price of his opposition and was subsequently relieved of his position in favour of former apparatchik of the PNG Party, Charles Litau, who was installed as the CEO by the O’Namah government.  Only then was the sale completed in 2012.

Namah’s denial that Loko’s removal from his position at Telikom had anything to do with the sale, calls for a complete suspension of all disbelief.  A tall order when all the ducks are in a row.

Namah after the storming of the Supreme Court

Namah after the storming of the Supreme Court

It takes a similar suspension of disbelief to buy Namah’s proffered explanation of “only enforcing a court order.”  After all, who can forget with what reverence Namah holds the courts of PNG? (That last statement requires the aid of an ‘ironic font’.)

And in the interim, the Tses are laughing all the way to the bank.

The Opposition Leader of PNG has helped them to wrest a substantial legacy from the people of PNG.  What delicious irony for these naturalized citizens?

Bewani: Fast forward to 2008: The granting of the lease

Well actually, we need to go back further.

By 2007, Belden Norman Namah, having only been out of jail for a few short years, had already become a millionaire (from logging – more about that in a future edition).

He had contributed such large amounts to the National Alliance election campaign, that, on Namah’s success as a candidate for Vanimo Green, he was awarded the Ministerial Portfolio of Forestry in the Somare government.

No one questioned the conflict of interests that having a logger as Minister of Forestry represented.  And this newly-mandated legislator wasted no time exploiting the high office.

In with the main chance, Namah, in 2007, introduced legislation that amended the Forestry Act (section 90) to allow large-scale conversion of forests for agriculture (Special Agricultural Business Leases – SABLs).

That done, and not allowing the grass to grow beneath his feet, by March 2008, Namah had set up Bewani Palm Oil Development Ltd (BPODL), of which he was sole shareholder, to take advantage of his own successful legislation.

The company was seeking a SABL over a huge tract (139,909 hectares) of prime forest (customary land) in Bewani, Sandaun Province.

One month later, enter Jimmy Tse ( he of the Telikom deal).

Mysteriously, at this time, Namah sold the company to Jimmy Tse for an undisclosed cash amount (before the SABL was granted).

Effectively, a person with no connection to the landowners whatsoever was about to own an SABL of almost 140,000 hectares – facilitated by the then Minister of Forestry.

The lease , the landowners, their representatives and other facilitators

Tse had to wait until July of the same year to have the SABL granted.

The deal was signed off by Pepi Kimas the then Secretary of the Department of Land and Physical Planning who complained to the Commission of Inquiry into SABLs (COI SABL – that has been recently completed) that he was under considerable pressure to grant the lease “from the Prime Minister’s level down.”

I imagine Tse was putting his own pressure on Namah having expectations of owning a substantial SABL when he bought Namah out.

Subsequently, in November 2008, Tse issued additional shares in the company (999,900) and in March of 2009 transferred them thus:

  • 80% to a foreign company Million Miles Group Ltd, (whose director, Andrew Lim is a notorious Malaysian logger) who were going to work the Bewani palm oil project (and, I assume, sub-lease the land.)
  • 15% to the landowners
  • 5%  to Bewani Palms Management Ltd (BPML) – a company whose sole director is currently Philip Eludeme who is also currently, Head of The Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB) and the man of NPF Inquiry infamy.Past directors of BPML have purportedly been Charles Litau (Head of Telikom when the Telikom land deal went through), and former PNG Party apparatchik) and Bob Namah.

The plot thickens

But the machinations weren’t over.

in a subsequent mysterious deal the sub-lease is sold to a different entity to Andrew Lim’s, effectively cutting him out of the deal.

Malaysians Kim Tee Tee (who was a passenger on the Falcon Jet with Namah in November, 2011 where two Indonesian fighter jets took a sinister interest) and Lip Hia Tee obtained the sub-lease on behalf of their company, Bewani Oil Palm Plantations Ltd and would run the palm oil plantation.

In October 2010, all shares in Bewani Palm Oil Development Ltd, are transferred to four landowners companies (notwithstanding that they’d already once been transferred to Million Miles Group). In the agreement Tse signed with the Tee’s, he agreed that the rental for the term of the sub-lease (99 years) would stand at Nil.

For this substantial landholding the rental would be nil for almost one hundred years.

Villagers from Imbinis - whose land is part of the SABL

Villagers from Imbinis – whose land is part of the SABL

From the transcript of the SABL Inquiry on 21 November 2011:

Peter Wuni (landowner):     My concern is with this paper and the conditions here [lease    agreement for Bewani]. It says that we have given our land free. My thinking is, the landowners, we did not give our consent to give this land free.

Commissioner:                    So who are the people that sold it off?

Peter Wuni:                        My thinking is they handpicked a minority group and signed these papers in Port Moresby.

Commissioner:                    By who [sic. ie – Who picked the minority group]?

Peter Wuni:                        Myself, I will say that the former forest minister, Belden Namah.

To top off the deal, the Malaysian sub-lease holders operating the Bewani palm oil Project were granted a ‘tax holiday’ of 10 years to compensate them for having to first clear the land of trees (log) – notwithstanding that ‘clearing the trees’ (otherwise known as ‘logging’) will be highly profitable, bringing them riches beyond the wildest dreams of most PNGeans.

In a recent ironic twist, Chairman of BPODL, John Wuni, (identified by his brother, above as one of Namah’s “handpicked” lieutenants ) has spoken out against Namah and the Malaysian company operating the Palm Oil business,  He is accusing Namah of fraud and threatening to run the Malaysian developers out of Vanimo

These are the deals that one PNG politician (at least) is doing – for the benefit of his people. (I need that ironic font again.)

What’s it all mean?

How strong is the Namah/Tse connection?

It is evident what Jimmy and Henry Tse stand to make from the Telikom land deal, it is less evident what he made from the Bewani deal and why the negotiated deal with the sub-lease holders was so inequitable.

Why did Belden Namah sell off the company to Jimmy Tse so quickly, even before the lease was in place – a question about which the Commission of Inquiry was also curious?

Was Namah’s passing of the legislation and his subsequent acquisition of a company that applied for a SABL just to facilitate a deal for Jimmy Tse?

How far back does Namah’s association go with Tse?

SABL Case Study No.5: Belden Namah and Bewani Palm Oil Limited

December 2, 2013 7 comments

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 1: Pages 125-143

 “What was particularly unacceptable … is the fact that this SABL was granted to an entity which had already been sold for ‘cash’ by its original one man owner (Mr Belden Norman Namah) to another one man owner (Mr Jimmy Tse). The latter had nothing in common with the resource owners. He particularly did not have their informed approval under law to be the sole owner of the SABL title holder” [p138]

“Bewani Palm Oil Ltd, a landowner company with an asset base of a 99-year SABL containing 139,909 hectares of virgin tropical forest tract, was sold for ‘cash to a person who was not consciously approved by the landowners through Section 102 (Land Act 1996) process.” [p127]

 “The seemingly reckless speculative behaviour without any safety legal mechanism being in place, particularly with the biggest asset that the people of Bewani have at the centre of it, is almost criminal in nature” [p128]

 “‘Informed consent’ of the landowners … was not obtained prior to the issuing of the SABL title”. [p141]

“Mr Pepi Kimas, former Secretary of DLPP… said he was under a lot of ‘political pressure’ to issue the direct grant to Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited. He said he was pressured from the Prime Minister’s level down” [p137/8]

 “The failure of the Provincial Administrator and the Lands Officer who advised him possibly borders on criminal negligence” [p141]

 “The Land Investigation Process (LIP) was not properly carried out and the Land Investigation Report (LIR) was badly done. There were no reservations [of landowner rights] [p139] “That is a reckless failure” [p141]

 The Provincial administrator “was ‘forced’ by certain officers of the DLPP [Department of Lands and Physical Planning] to sign the Certificate of Alienability.. there was a lot of ‘political pressure’ to sign.” [p131]

 “The ability by DAL, DEC and PNGFA to effectively monitor permit conditions to ensure compliance is almost non-existent” [p140]

“The COI recommends that the SABL grant over Portion 160C to Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited is to be REVOKED and REVIEWED” [p141 emphasis in the original]

This Case Study covers the Special Agriculture and Business Lease over Portion 160C in West Sepik Province

SABL FINAL REPORT COVERPortion 160C is a ‘direct grant’ to Bewani Palm Oil Development Ltd of Bewani in the Sandaun (West Sepik) Province. It is a 99 year SABL covering 139,909 hectares. Prior to conversion to an SABL the entire 139,909 hectares was customary land. The grant is dated July 2008 and was issued by then Secretary Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP) Pepi Kimas.

In April 2008, barely a month from the date of incorporation, Bewani Palm Oil Development Ltd (BPOD) changed ownership. It was sold for “cash” by the sole shareholder Belden Norman Namah to one Jimmy Tse. [There is no record of the size of the cash payment or what happened to the money].

All the original directors ceased to be directors and Jimmy Tse and one Hung Kai Hii (a Malaysian national) then became directors. In October 2010 Hung Kai Hii ceased to be a director leaving Jimmy Tse (who appears to be a Papua New Giuinean) as the sole director.

In November 2008 Bewani Palm Oil Development (by then fully owned by Jimmy Tse) issued 999,900 shares, bringing the total issued to one million.

“It remains unknown but … the extra share issue is unlikely to have been authorized by a Board of Directors’ resolution”.

In March 2009 Jimmy Tse transferred all the one million shares for K1.00 each; 800,000 to Million Miles Group Ltd of Singapore; 150,000 to Bewani Palms Management Ltd in trust for four landowner groups; 50,000 shares tp Bewani Palms Management Ltd.

Million Miles Group Ltd (MMG) has its registered office in the British Virgin Islands. Therefore the implications that for  time a landowner company with unrestricted control of a 99 year SABL lease containing 139,909 hectares of virgin tropical forest was effectively in foreign hands.

The CoI was not able to ascertain the motives behind the sale and resale of BPOB.

“The whole transaction remains a total mystery”. It was “dangerous speculative behaviour” [p128]

“Contrary to the law’s intent the SABL was directly granted to a non-landowner, a one-man ‘paper company’. It was then transferred to a foreign entity.

In October 2010 MMG Ltd transferred all its shares to four landowner companies that now own equal shares in BPOD – Palms 21 Limited, Momu Holdings Limited, Ossima Yalamaki Limited and Bulaulai Limited.

Bulaulai Ltd is owned by 11 ILGs. Ossima Yalamaki Ltd is owned by 13 persons who are also its directors. Momu Holdings is owned by Camillus Abu and Jacob Yani. There are 9 directors. Palms 21 is owned by 23 ILGs.

The developer is Bewani Palm Oil Plantations Ltd (BPOP). It is owned by Kim Tee TEE and Lip Hian TEE (both Malaysians). BOPP has a sub-lease of the remaining term of the SABL entered into in November 2010. There is also a Project Agreement between BPOP, BPOD and the landowner companies.

Kim Tee TEE and Lip Hian TEE also own Vanimo Forest Products Limited that is involved in other logging projects in Sundaun Province.

Bewani Forest Products is the contracted entity visible on the ground in the SABL area. It is owned by the same to people who own the sub-lease over Bewani oil Palm Plantations. Vanimo Forest Products (VFP) is the entity carrying out selective logging operations on the ground in the SABL area. There has been no formal agreement to engage VFP produced.

BPOD is a non-functional “peper” landowner company. It has no management structure and the single director has no idea how the company is faring. There has never been a board meeting.

“The sub-lease holder seems to have transferred operational functions to VFP, which is owned by the same two people who are the sub-lease holders… issues of transparency and whether the sub-leaseholder is properly discharging its contractual obligations to the landowners appear to be raised here”. [p132]

Another company, Maxland (PNG) Limited was initially involved and was to hold 85% of the Bewani oil palm development project. That arrangement was approved by DAL and a FCA was granted to Maxland. Maxland is a Malaysian company wholly owned bu Priceworth Wood Products.

“Maxland (PNG) has faded completely out of the picture. Why and how … is unclear” [p130]

Joseph Sungi, the Provincial Administrator, signed the Certificate of Alienability to authenticate the Land Investigation Report process. But whether a Lease-lease back instrument was executed is uncertain because no copy exists and there is no explanation for its absence. There was no reservation of any traditional landowners rights.

“Mr Sungi failed to carry out the necessary due diligence required of him as the head of the province before he signed of” [p131]

Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL)  has approved the Bewani Oil Palm Project and issued a Certificate of Compliance for large scale conversion of forest to agriculture in November 2008.

Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) process for the project has been fully completed. Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement were submitted in 2008 and approved.

BPOP has a current Annual Forest Clearance Plan and an approved Five Year Forest Clearance Plan and Forest Clearance Authority (FCA).

“It is extremely doubtful if the developer is keeping to the approved Development Schedule on agro-forestry activities” [p133]

Despite DAL, PNG Forest Authority and DEC approvals there is a lack of follow up monitoring for the purposes of compliance and progressive reporting and their already appear to be delays in the project implementation.

The Forestry Act requires forest clearing to be apportioned in blocks of 500 hectares (unless increased for good cause by the National Forest Board). FCA holders are being permitted to clear 5,000 hectares at any one time and this is being promoted by DAL. No technical advise to support the increase was produced to the Commission of Inquiry.

Portion 163C SABL was improperly created within the already existing Portion 160C and granted to Ossima Resources Limited. It was later cancelled by the Registrar of Titles. Portion 163C covered 31,430 hectares and was granted in January 2011 and cancelled in May 2011 because it was found to be inside the greater 160C.

“Either not all the landowners who have interests over the lands constituted in Portion 163C were consulted or they did not give their informed consent for the grant of an SABL over Portion 160C which included their customary land.” [135]

There are “huge overlaps in boundaries” between adding SABLs in Sundaun Province. Portion 160C extends into almost one-third of the area of Portion 40C – an SABL held by Ainbai-Elis Holdings Ltd.

“The LIR, to the extent that it legitimizes overlaps in SABL boundaries and conflicting interests with the people within the SABL held by Ainbai-Elis (Portion 40C) is defective”  [p136]

“Mr Pepi Kimas, former Secretary of DLPP… said he was under a lot of ‘political pressure’ to issue the direct grant to Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited. He said he was pressured from the Prime Minister’s level down” [p137/8]

The Bewani Oil Palm project has two nursery sites and it is said over a million seedlings. Planting has commenced at the nursery site, the only place properly cleared for planting. The site is not big enough for even hallf the seedlings. There appear to be no other planting sites being prepared.

There is simmering landowner discontent and dissent based on the initial lack of informed consent to be part of the project.

The SABL holder and its shareholding landowner companies are unstructured ‘paper companies’.

“The COI recommends that the SABL grant over Portion 160C to Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited is to be REVOKED and REVIEWED” [p141 emphasis in the original]

More allegations about Bewani oil palm and SABL

October 11, 2013 7 comments

By John Wuni
, Chairman of Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited 

There is an alien by the name of Steven Khan, a Pakistanese assulym seeker being engaged by Opposition Leader, Hon. Belden Namah to travel to asian countries to discourage potential investors to join up with landowners of Bewani Oil Palm project after having conspired with the current developer in defrauding the landowners of their monetary benefits.

The current developer had been caught up with having tampering the project agreement and matter shall soon be contested in court of law for the parties involved be prosecuted under the criminal code act.

Steven Khan and Jimmy Tse including two (2) Easter Highlanders are also involved in the scam and both will also be referred to police fraud squad for questioning for their involvement in Bewani Oil Palm project saga.

Steven Khan is a Pakisteeze assulym seeker and had does not have any legal land rights in png to negotiate for resource development on png soil, and will soon be deported out of PNG.

The current Bewani Oil Palm developer will soon be shuting its opreation and chased out by the landowners.

Be ware of con artist in the likes of Steven Khan and the latest who had just popped up by the name of Leo Mandakali of Enga Province.

READ ALSO: Namah at centre of alleged Bewani oil palm fraud

A prolix Sam Basil ‘explains’ Falcongate – or does he?

January 23, 2012 1 comment

By Keith Jackson* 

WHILE PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL has been doing his level best to ease tensions between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia over the Falcongate incident, in a rambling public statement minister Sam Basil has said he “personally finds the Indonesian embassy response shallow and wanting”.

Mr Basil, the National Planning Minister, was aboard the government Falcon jet that was intercepted by Indonesian defence force fighter planes over Indonesian airspace on 29 November.

The incident was brought to light only in recent weeks and has sparked a number of serious questions relating both to the circumstances of the intercept and to what deputy prime minister Belden Namah, other politicians and Malaysian businessmen were up to in making the controversial flight.

In his statement, Mr Basil makes a barely disguised reference intimating that Indonesia staged the intercept as a deliberate act of intimidation:

No nation, however large or small, however rich or poor, however large or small its army, should be allowed to intimidate, coerce, manipulate and dominate another.

I am urging Papua New Guineans not to be swayed by malicious and untrue suggestions that the Falcon jet was carrying US$250 million. That is a red herring – a mere diversion from the real issue.

But the statement makes no mention of serious allegations that the Indonesians were prompted to act because an international fugitive, Djoko Tjandra, was on board the Falcon.

Tjandra is alleged to have various business dealings with some PNG ministers, and is said to be behind a controversial attempt to establish what would be a lucrative rice monopoly in the Central Province.

Mr Basil’s statement, issued through his website, went on to say:

The Falcon jet was chartered by the Bewani oil palm project and was ferrying business partners in the project which included Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, [Police] Minister [John] Boito and myself.

I was there because the trip offered insights into oil palm project management which is useful in the light of the Tekadu oil palm project in my Bulolo electorate as well as the Markham Valley oil palm project in Morobe generally – not to mention that as National Planning and Monitoring Minister I would sooner or later have to deal with oil palm-related issues.

As a commercial chartered aircraft, all of us were subject to the rigorous checks required under customs, immigration and civil aviation laws of the various countries where we landed….

Spearheaded by Mr Namah, we formed the new O’Neill-Namah government that wants to see issues like lying over shares one holds, resisting and delaying legitimate Ombudsman Commission processes through the court system, unexplained missing Taiwan dollar-for-diplomacy funds, breaking multitude of PNG, Solomon Islands and international aviation laws highlighted in the Defence Force Inquiry into the Julian Moti Affair and extensive waste of funds in the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance with no one charged or prosecuted to date.

He went on to say said that he finds the Indonesian government response to the air incident “shallow and wanting”.

The Indonesians explained the intercept as being an error caused by confusion over whether the Falcon had an overflight permit or not.

“Someone is not telling the truth,” Mr Basil said, “and the truth has a way of slipping out despite best efforts to cover up – even by nations.”

Let’s hope the truth about exactly who was on the Falcon and what they were really up to also “slips out”.  At the very least, the ministers on board could be perceived to have a conflict of interest.

Mr Basil’s attack on the integrity of Indonesia will not only anger a neighbouring nation, it will be seen, to use Mr Basil’s term, as an elaborate “red herring” to cover up some salient facts about the flight that the PNG public has a right to know.

Time to come clean, Messrs Namah, Basil and Boito.

*PNG Attitude Blog