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Posts Tagged ‘Fabian Pok’

Take Action On The Manumanu Land Deal

April 25, 2018 Leave a comment

See also –‘Gross manipulation and dishonesty’ over Manumanu land deals

Source: Post Courier Editorial

The K2 million administrative inquiry into the K46 million Manumanu land deal must not be a waste of hard earned public money and time.

Already the property of Parliament, this report presented last week by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as promised in the public interest, must now be decisively acted upon.

Its recommendations are crucial for establishing the formal terms of reference a formal Commission of Inquiry must operate under when it is set up.

And senior Government Ministers, politicians and senior public servants were implicated in the entire saga. It is only fair that the COI is established so that these people can be cleared.

But a COI can only be set up after final deliberation by the Supreme Court on the questions now before it to interpret regarding its process and relevance to such public inquiries.

And like Prime Minister O’Neill said, the process has not in any case prevented other investigating authorities including the police fraud squad, Ombudsman Commission and the Personnel Management Department from undertaking their own actions as they deem appropriate relating to the same matter.

Pending the final Supreme Court resolution of the reference on COIs, it should not be too difficult to deduce from the initial TOR of the administrative inquiry what should be pursued by relevant authorities now that the report has been tabled in Parliament.

The John Griffin QC led inquiry delivered as expected after their investigations since December, and good advice is now needed on progressing what has been recommended be it prosecution or further inquisition into the conduct of the people, public servants, Ministers and traditional landowners involved in the deal.

The initial assurance given by the Prime Minister when appointing QC Griffin and his team must be honoured in order to maintain the integrity of their findings and to also offset the due process of further perusal of the K46 million deal.

Mr O’Neill said then that the appointment will not prevent on-going investigations of the police fraud squad, the Ombudsman Commission and the Department of Personnel Management in respect of the staff and senior public servants that have been implicated in the matter.

He announced that the inquiry would look into the role of relevant Ministers, the role of relevant departmental heads and their officers, and heads of various state owned enterprises.

He said then that it would look at the role of the management of many of these organisations, the role of the Valuer General in terms of the valuations of the land that was purchased, and of course the recommendations of the inquiry was to be made to Cabinet within four weeks and a report to be Parliament on the findings.

That has already been achieved as promised by the Government.

But what is needed now is progressive action in order to conclude the findings and ensure any breaches of the law, corruption, abuse of office and criminal actions on the part of identified perpetrators are effectively brought to justice.

‘Gross manipulation and dishonesty’ over Manumanu land deals

April 24, 2018 1 comment

Ministers Pok and Duma have still to be cleared over their involvement in Manumanu land deal

“Gross amount of manipulation and dishonesty between the three key state agencies including Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited, Defence Department and Lands Department”.

Source: The National

THE disappearance of files from the Lands Department on the Manumanu land deal points to “corruption” and “conspiracy”, according to an inquiry.

The report of the inquiry into the land transactions and deals by the Ministry of Public Enterprise and State Investment, and Ministry of Defence, was recently handed over by chairman John Anthony
Griffin QC to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“The fact that the Lands Department files disappeared strongly supports the proposition that there was corruption involved and there is circumstantial evidence which supports the notion that there
was a wide-ranging conspiracy, such as the lengths some personnel in the Lands Department have gone through in removing all the files containing evidence relating to the transaction,” the report stated.

It said it needed a full investigation “to uncover the conspiracy”.

The report highlighted that the valuation of land Portion 406 at the cost of K46.6 million was so far in excess of the true value and was “fraudulently high”.

It said the Defence Council did not approve the land purchase “nor was there any feasibility studies being done on that portion of the land prior to the acquisition”.

The inquiry cleared the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited, State Solicitor, Land Titles Commission and their department heads of any wrongdoing.

It said there was a “gross amount of manipulation and dishonesty between the three key state agencies including Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited, Defence Department and Lands Department”.

Ten month delay on Manumanu inquiry is unacceptable

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been vocal in the media recently telling anti-corruption warriors to be patient and wait for the results of an administrative inquiry into the alleged illegal Manumanu land deals – transactions involving millions of kina in state funds and hundreds of hectares of land.

See also:

But it has already been ten months since the scandal erupted in the media. It was early February when the Prime Minister promised three investigations, a Commission of Inquiry (later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry) a police fraud squad investigation and an Ombudsman Commission inquiry.

Now the Prime Minister says the Administrative Inquiry is yet to complete its investigations and the results will be known in an ‘appropriate timeframe’ but given no clue as to what that means.

Meanwhile the people implicated in the scandal and their party are back at the heart of government and the police and Ombudsman Commission are completely silent.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we are all victims of government corruption; corruption that O’Neill is happy to see continue while he sits on his hands.

Jimmy Maladina’s Australian silk recruited by PM O’Neill to lead Duma/Pok inquiry

March 8, 2017 2 comments

Having promised a Commission of Inquiry, under the predicted Chairmanship of (Rtd) Judge Graham Ellis, who cut his teeth in the National and Supreme Court during the 1990s, working a number of high profile anti-corruption inquiries, PM O’Neill has been in reverse gear ever since. 

This culminated first in an announcement by the Attorney General, that his government had somehow overlooked court proceedings barring any Commission of Inquiry from being convened.

John Griffin QC

Then we learnt yesterday that an ‘administrative inquiry’ would be convened, under the leadership of John Griffin QC.

John Griffin QC is most well-known for dashing the hopes of the country, when he managed to secure for his client Jimmy Maladina, a suspended sentence after the latter confessed to misappropriating K2.65 million during his tenure as Chairman of the National Provident Fund, a time when he was joined at the corporate hip to Peter O’Neill. The court let Maladina go with a suspended 8 year sentence, and a 2 year good behaviour bond. On the other hand, a middle man Maladina acted through received 6 years prison.

Later Griffin managed to get even Maladina’s conviction overturned by the Court, despite the fact Maladina ‘admitted freely that he had committed the offence’.

Given Jimmy Maladina declared himself bankrupt, and claims to have sold off his Australian properties to pay restitution – it can only be assumed Maladina has good friends who could pay for a silk of Griffin’s stature.

However, with a budget of K2 million for this ‘administrative inquiry’ into Duma/Pok, paying for high priced silks will not be a problem.

We are told the inquiry began on 7 March, and will continue for 4 weeks, with a finishing date of 28 March. Ahem, that’s actually 3 weeks!

For this 3 week work period,  the commission will have a budget of K666,666 – perhaps an appropriate enough sum! Even if the entire commission team furiously shovelled kina into an open fire, they couldn’t physically burn this sum of cash in three weeks.

If we assume Griffin QC is paid K85,000 per week – the sort of sum a QC fetches – that gets us through K255,000 over the three week period. You would need a team of 8 QCs working around the clock to expend this K2 million budget.

We assume in the interests of ‘accountability and transparency’, to quote the PM, he will publish the inquiry’s budget in full?

As we watch O’Neill’s stance over Manumanu dilute on a daily basis, it must be asked – did the PM overplay his original hand against Duma and Pok, and are we now seeing all parties backtrack so they can resume cordial relations at the top of the trough following this year’s national elections? 

Will Prime Minister O’Neill crumble before NEC opponents over Manumanu COI?

March 1, 2017 5 comments

pok-and-duma

When evidence was made public on 1 February this year, linking the State Enterprises Minister, Defence Minister and Chair of the Central Supply and Tender Board, to a major land swindle, Prime Minister O’Neill swiftly announced a Commission of Inquiry.  

He appeared to have his ducks lined up. The ABC reported just five days later that a retired judge was to be appointed head of the COI. 

Two names were thrown around in the social media, Warwick Andrews and Graham Ellis.

Odds are it was the latter who had been approached by O’Neill. 

After all, Ellis had previously been asked by the NEC to Chair the Interim Anti-Corruption Office. However, this appointment has been blocked by a court injunction, which wont be heard until April. 

This has left Ellis in limbo. Cue the role as head of the Commission of Inquiry.

However, evidence coming from within the NEC indicates that Minister for Public Services, Puka Temu, among others, have deep reservations over O’Neill’s choice.

If the appointment is Ellis, this makes sense.

When he was a National Court Judge from 1990-1992, and 2009-2011, he had a reputation for effectively clearing out case backlogs and swiftly getting the wheels of justice into gear. The Poreporena Freeway Commission of Inquiry he chaired in 1992 was completed within 8 weeks and under budget. He also Chaired a 1991 Leadership Tribunal that led to the famous resignation of Ted Diro.

For a Minister such as Puka Temu, whose own connections with William Duma’s sticky fingers, has been documented by the National Court – the news that a no-nonsense judge, with a reputation of being fiercely independent, may not have come as welcomed news. 

It is not clear how the struggle within NEC will turn out. But it stands to reason if the retired Judge already appointed to head the country’s premiere anti-corruption office is selected, it is a sign that substance has trumped expediency. On the other hand, if we see hands ruffle down to the bottom of the barrel, we can safely assume a certain Prime Minister is being held over it – and is prepared to set up a COI, that will be little more than a whitewash.

United Resources Party at the centre of Manumanu land scandal: former and current leader implicated

February 7, 2017 5 comments

pok-and-duma

Yesterday Peter O’Neill announced a Commission of Inquiry would be launched into the Manumanu land deal. We can welcome this move, without celebrating its author.

O’Neill has had numerous opportunities in the past to investigate major land frauds, yet has done nothing. NHC residents, warned O’Neill the public housing estate was being sold off on mass, and the proceeds were being pocketed by politicians and private developers. O’Neill promised action but nothing was done, and the NHC continues to be mired in corruption and fraud. 

When Dame Carol Kidu warned the Prime Minister about major corrupt dealings behind the Paga Hill Estate – before she shifted sides following a A$178,000 consultancy payment – much was promised about investigating the project being pushed by Gudmundur Fridriksson (and it appears William Duma), but nothing was done.

Furthermore, while the results have been to hand for many years from two Commission of Inquiries into the Department of Finance and the SABL land grab – much has been promised, nothing has been done.

So it would seem fair to ask, why the change in posture?

Lets look at the key suspects in the case. William Duma, and Fabian Pok have been at the centre of this scandal. Yesterday O’Neill revealed a new suspect. The owner of Portion 698, Kitoro No.64 Limited, who was paid K15.4 million for their state lease, after the Defence Department reclaimed the land.

It can be revealed that the owner of this company is Tim Neville, former United Resources Party Leader.

So at the moment we have three suspects, who are all linked to the United Resources Party.

Important questions emerge.

We know that O’Neill presides over a government of robber-barons. They do not operate, however, as a cohesive unit. Instead they divide up the government into territory, which different groups assume responsibility for and abuse for personal financial gain.

It appears from the evidence being presented the lucrative black market in land has been heavily exploited by United Resources Party heavyweights.

Which raises the question. Is this turf wars between different factions within government over lucrative corrupt industries?

Or are we seeing tensions within Cabinet now exploding, as O’Neill attempts to soil rivals in the lead up to the election? 

We can only speculate.

Either way, this should not diminish support for a thorough investigation of this land fraud. There is a thriving black market in land and its impact on the nation is devastating.

But why stop at Manumanu – isn’t it time to prosecute all those involved in the abuse of state leases, whether they be sweetheart 99 year business leases given to political cronies for nothing rents, or SABLs acquired by defrauding landowners?

Defence Minister illegally acquired Boroko home

January 26, 2017 6 comments
Defence Minister Fabian Pok illegally acquired a house in Boroko from the National Housing Corporation

Defence Minister Fabian Pok illegally acquired a house in Boroko from the National Housing Corporation

The National Court has ordered Defence Minister Fabian Pok give up the title to a home he illegally acquired from the National Housing Corporation (see newspaper report below).

Justice Canning’s has described the decision to allow Pok to buy the house – at a value less than that quoted to the home’s occupier – as  “favors being done to big men.”

Not only was Pok not entitled in law to acquire the house, he purchased it without it being advertised and with no competitive bidding process.

MP’s title forfeited over fraud charges

Source: Post Courier

THE title to a property in Boroko, National Capital District was forfeited from Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok after the National Court declared its acquisition a “case of constructive fraud.”

The ruling was handed down by Justice David Cannings last Friday who also ordered the National Housing Corporation to sell it at a lesser price to Vaki Vailala who had been occupying it for 23 years.

He said Mr Pok was not an eligible buyer according to the three requirements set out in Division IV, 4, Section 37 of the National Housing Corporation Act.

In 1994, Vaki Vailala moved into Section 6, Lot 45, Kanu Place, Boroko when he was a surveyor with the Department of Lands and Physical Planning.

In 2005, he found employment within the private sector and began paying rent to NHC.

During his occupancy, MrVilala made three offers to purchase the property but received no response from NHC.

In May 2013, Mr Pok wrote under the letter head “Office of the Minister for Defence,” expressing his interest in “any property that is available for sale.”

Five months later, the NHC managing director, John Dege offered to sell to Mr Vailala for K529, 599.60 with conditions that he accept within 14 days and make a 10 per cent deposit.

Mr Vailala asked for an extension of time to arrange finance.

14 days later, Mr Dege cancelled the offer due to Mr Vailala’s failure to comply with conditions and sold the property to Mr Pok at a price K 4065. 60 less than the one he had offered Mr Vailala.

Mr Vailala was given seven days to vacate so initiated the legal proceedings and an interim stay was issued.

Justice Cannings found the circumstance of the sale suspicious as it seemed like “favors being done to big men.”

“There were no evidence that any other person was offered this property, the sale of the property was not advertised and there was no competitive bidding,” he said.

The court found the NHC offer to Mr Vailala unreasonable as it came with little notice five years after his last offer to sell and an extension of deadline was never given that Mr Vailala had been living on the land for over 20 years.

Justice Cannings advised Mr Pok to seek refund from NHC as he was prejudiced; he had invested more than half a million in the property and has not been able to occupy it for one day since he bought it almost three years ago.