Source: Radio New Zealand
A lawyer in the Papua New Guinea city of Madang has laid a criminal complaint over alleged breaches of process by government ministers in a land deal.
Minister of Lands Benny Allan and Minister of Petroleum & Energy Nixon Duban have been accused of conspiring to attempt to unlawfully acquire two slabs of prime public land in Madang.
Bryan Kramer, who laid a complaint with Madang police, said the ministers circumvented a number of required processes in the land deal.
He claimed the awarding of the title by the Lands Minister was illegal, and that a National Physical Planning board failked to consult the provincial planning board when it rezoned the land.
“So then they had rezoned both pieces of land for commercial use, and then the Minister issued a directive, exercising his powers to grant the land directly to a company that is directly associated with Nixon Duban. When I looked at the instruments, I established that the minister had no such powers to make that decision, and he even invoked the wrong provisions of the law.”
He said he doesn’t expect the police to look far into this case, based on previous lack of action over a bribery case in the court of disputed election returns which found Mr Duban guilty.
Last month, PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill announced that two other cabinet ministers were standing aside pending a probe into their involvement in another allegedly fraudulent land deal.
The Minister for Defence Fabian Pok and Minister for State Enterprises William Duma are alleged to have committed the fraud in relation to a land deal for a purported PNG naval base relocation.
It has emerged that the state-owned asset holding company Kumul Consolidated Holdings paid a company closely linked with Mr Duma US$14million to purchase land at Manumanu in Central Province.
Mr O’Neill ordered the Police Commissioner to look into the allegation, and has signalled that there will be a Commission of Inquiry to examine the allegations around the land deal.
Both ministers in the allegedly-criminal land deal in Madang are members of Mr O’Neill’s People’s National Congress party.
Petroleum Minister and Madang MP, Nixon Duban, has gone to the media to defend two illegal land deals in which a company owned by his family and associates has acquired prime green spaces in Madang town.
Duban, see story below, says the deals have been approved by the Provincial Assembly and will see the construction of two 15-story hotels and a seven-story shopping mall.
But Duban has not answered any of the questions over the issuing of the leases or, indeed, denied, they are illegal.
The Minister should explain:
- who is the Korean company he says will build the facilities?
- why were the leases issued to a company owned by his relatives and associates?
- why did the Minister not reveal this conflict of interest when lobbying for the Lands Minister to issues the leases?
- how could the leases be issued under S.72(d) of the Lands Act when the land does not contain any State buildings and therefore the Section cannot apply?
- why was the land rezoned by the National Physical Planning Board in Port Moresby without the knowledge and consent of the Madang Provincial Physical Planning Board.
- what is the name of the company he claims local organisations will own a stake in and how will they benefit from that ownership given the development is very unlikely to show a profit in the foreseeable future?
- what role does the Chinese company Loyaluck Investments, whose name is disclosed in paperwork as linked to the deal, have in the affair?
New look for Madang
DOROTHY MARK in The National (aka The Loggers Times)
MADANG will see the development of two 15-storey hotels and a seven-storey shopping mall under a new K500 million business investment plan.
The plan has been endorsed by the provincial assembly.
MP Nixon Duban told the assembly that the plan received much criticism in the social media because many people were not aware of the economic benefits of the investment.
He said the shopping mall would be constructed at a cost of K300 million by a Korean company. Duban said Madang people would own 30 per cent of the shares in the investment.
“The building itself will have restaurants, banking facilities, private clinics, office spaces, recreational park, children play ground and shops,” he said.
Duban said Transgogol, Ambenob and MULLG would have 5 per cent shares each, the business arm of the Bel people in Madang called the Yamauan LOA would own 5 per cent, Madang district, would own 5 per cent and 120 community-based organisations, which benefitted under the district’s K1 million credit scheme, would also receive 5 per cent of the shares.
He said 70 per cent of the shares was for the investor.
Duban said the investment was a result of the Madang’s investment summit last year.
He said two hotels would be erected at a cost of K200 million with big economic benefit for the district. The projects would take two years to complete. “Those people posting the negative image of the investment on social media represent their own self-interest. It is a political gimmick and should not be entertained,” Duban said.
He said the shopping mall and hotels development would place Madang in a better position to gain city status.
Duban received the full support of the assembly to go ahead with the investment on behalf of the Madang Urban, Ambenob and Transgogol local level governments.
Commentary By Bryan Kramer, PNGFacts
On 22nd December 2016 social media exposed an illegal land grab over two parcels of prime public land in Madang involving Minister of Petroleum & Energy and Member of Madang Open Nixon Duban and the Minister of Lands Benny Allan.
On 5th December 2016 Minister of Lands Benny Allan issued a notice under Section 72(d) of the Lands Act (Powers of Minister to Grant State Lease Directly) granting a business lease for development of commercial complexes and residences over land described as Sir Donald Cleland Park and Yabong Sports Field to a paper company Dawan Investments Ltd.
Minister of Land’s decision was made following the request of Member of Madang Nixon Duban in a letter dated 16 November 2016. Duban claimed that the Madang District Development Authority (DDA) resolved to develop the two parcels of land for the purpose of the 2018 APEC meeting.
Duban goes on to claim that it was also the Board’s (DDA) decision that Dawan Investments Ltd be awarded the title over the two parcels of land to commence immediate development. He requested the Minister immediately transfer the title to Dawan Investments.
Twenty days later on 5 December 2015 the Minister of Lands complied with Duban’s request awarding the title over both parcels of land to the company.
So what was the proposed development?
According to a letter purportedly authored by the Dawan’s Investment Managing Director – “it was the company’s intention to show case the economic opportunities for the summit” .. to construct a mega mall with a recreational playground”
However after the story broke on social media receiving much public criticism seems the scope of development has now changed to the development of two hotels. “The hotels are to carter for hundreds of executives and officers attending APEC meetings in town.” said Madang DDA CEO (District Administrator).
So was the granting of the title to Dawan Investments by the Minister of Lands illegal?
The short answer is Yes and before I explain why lets first establish some background facts surrounding this issue.
What do we know about Dawan Investments Ltd?
According to IPA records it is a locally registered company incorporation in June 2013. The company’s three directors include:
1) Mr. Stanley Kaut former IT officer with Nasfund and family relative of Duban, who resides at McGregor Police Barracks, 9 Mile Port Moresby;
2) Ms Pauline Galopo, admin officer and a family relative to Duban who resides at Gerehu Stage 3B in Port Moresby
3) Mr. Felix Abegul recent UPNG graduate employed with Madang DDA on administrative matters and to manage district projects;
Duban’s wife Debbie Duban is also the Company’s Vice-chairman and Treasurer. However her appointment is yet to be registered with the public records of IPA.
The company’s Shareholders include Mr. Stanley Kaut and Mr Lamak Kautit. Mr. Kautit’s residential address is the same as Duban’s in Port Moresby Section 33 Lot 1 Sogeri Road.
Former Director and shareholder of the company include Collin Iwap, Duban’s electoral officer and current District funds co-coordinator.
The company’s registered office is also Duban’s residential address in Port Moresby.
According to the company’s minutes the company was formed “to assist and serve as mediator between Government organisations, private sector and general public in terms of proposal preparations, security assessments and government implemented projects”
In summary the Member of Madang wrote to Minister of Lands insisting he transfer the title over the two parcels of prime public land to a company made up of this own staff, family relatives and wife.
A company that is registered less than three years ago, has no record of actually operating or track record to carrying out any development let alone the major development of a mega mall or two hotels.
Now it is important to note Duban’s letter to the Minister was in response to a letter he received from an unnamed person signing off as Managing Director of Dawan Investments Ltd.
Who wrote “my company has just received approvals from the National Physical Planning Board for the re-zoning and the proposed development which the company is planning to construct within the site.” [Sir Donald Cleland Park]
“…we would very much appreciate it if the title of the subject parcel of land to be granted directly to you under Section 72 of Lands Act, subsection (a) or Section 102 subsections 1 and 2 where it says the Minister of Lands and Physical Planning may grant a special business lease to companies or individuals as he sees fit”
Now this is where it gets interesting – the letter to Duban from the Managing Director was not authored on Dawan Investments Ltd company letterhead but a company by the name of Loyaluck Investments Limited.
IPA records confirm this company is owned by a Chinese company Plataus Resources Ltd, registered in Hong Kong only a year earlier (April 2015). The company’s sole director is a young Chinese woman Ms. Wen Lei Cui.
She is also the director of the companies behind Plataus Resources Ltd , Moneyman Investments Co Ltd and Dynamic Wealth Resources Ltd.
The signature of the person writing under the title of Managing Director of Dawan Investments does not match any of the signatures of the persons named as the company directors or secretary.
Yet he clearly refers to Dawan Investments as “his company” or was he referring to Loyaluck Investments Ltd whose ultimate holding is a Chinese company.
Duban was recently accused of associating with an young Chinese female by the name of Dora Lu. She is accused of acting as agent for Chinese companies playing a key role in comforting PNG Ministers of State and Department heads in the Petroleum and other key sectors. Is it a coincidence the ultimate holding company behind Loyaluck Investments Ltd is registered as a Resource Company also involving a young Chinese female.
This begs the question whether Dawan Investments is just is a front used to acquire public land for Chinese nationals.
Back to the central question whether the granting of the title to Dawan Investments was illegal?
According to the notice issued by Minister of Lands he exercised his powers under Section 72(d) of the Lands Act to grant a direct lease to the company without having to follow the usual process of referring the application to the Lands Board.
The problem is Section 72(d) relates to granting of State Leases under Section 99, which states the Minister may, by written agreement grant a lease of Government land on which there is a building the property of the State.
Now neither parcel of land has Government buildings on it. Therefore the Minister’s decision to grant the lease under Section 72(d) was illegal.
Further even if the Minister of Lands had complied with the request of the Managing Director of Dawan/Loyaluck Investments and directed the land be awarded to Member of Madang Nixon Duban under Section 72(a) it would also be illegal as this provision only relates to granting of business or agriculture leases over customary land.
So now that we have established the granting of the lease to Dawan Investments is illegal will anything be done about it?
Well I’ve issued instructions to my lawyer in Madang to file proceedings seeking an extension to file an appeal against the Minister of Land’s decision and at the same time obtain a caveat (stay) over the land pending the outcome of proceedings.
With the National Elections around the corner I expect the good Minister of Lands to revoke his decision to avoid being dragged through the Court and implicated in an illegal land grab.
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…
The Sir Donald Cleland Park in Madang and the green space opposite the Holy Spirit Cathedral are to be lost to commercial development. Lands Minister Benny Allen has granted commercial leases over the two pieces of land for development by a company called Dawan Investment Limited. The documents below show the sorry tale – including how the 2018 APEC Summit has been used to justify the land grab.
At the bare minimum, when people pay taxes, they expect their governments to at the very least uphold the law.
Yet in Papua New Guinea, the government has proven allergic to law enforcement – indeed when Governor Juffa began tackling illegal businesses, he was condemned by the political classes. It appears lawlessness is now formal policy.
But the failure of the government hasnt stopped Madang landowners and civil society from stopping the illegal conduct of Malaysian logger firm G & S Limited.
Owned by Malaysians Kem Go and Sie Wong, G & S Limited has been illegally logging on customary land belonging to the Songumbe-Marumbe and Boimbe Clans. This is a foreign company, which has come into Papua New Guinea, it does not have foreign certification to operate in PNG (according to the IPA registry), and it is involved in theft. Yet the government has done nothing.
So landowners in collaboration with the Madang Civil Society Organisation Forum, challenged the loggers in court and won.
Justice Canning found the Malaysian logger guilty of the tort of trespass. The court awarded the customary plaintiffs an injunction and damages.
The problem today is that private remedies are the only ones left for communities being victimised by land grabbers, fraudsters and crooks. The government as the principal law breaker, has no motivation to see the law enforced.
Its time to take action against the culture of criminality. We must protect our lands and people from these predators. If a company is in breach of the law, they must be chased off the land and brought to justice. The government will not do it, so the people must undergo this struggle. It is through struggle great nations are forged.