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O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1330 days and counting…

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

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It is now just a few months to the election, but there is still NO ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab. NO ACTION to return the land to customary landholders and NO ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

It is now 1,330days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 50 thousand square kilometres of land.

Since June 2013, more than three-and-a-half years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013, O’Neill said in Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

And just three months ago, on November 4, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,330 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of Kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Australia entrusts its governance program to an exposed fraudster

February 7, 2017 3 comments
lupari-and-davis

Exposed fraudster Isaac Lupari and Australian High Commissioner, Bruce Davis, chair the first Strategic Management Committee meeting to oversee the new PNG Governance Facility (PGF).

The photo above and the story at the bottom of this article rather sum up Australia’s relationship with PNG. Basically, Australia couldn’t give two hoots about corruption in PNG as long as some of the money keeps flowing into the Queensland property market, Australian companies get big contracts from the PNG government and cheap access to PNG resources, and, of course, the gulag on Manus stays open.

What PNG desperately needs is international friends who insist on upholding the highest standards of integrity and good governance, not countries like Australia, interested in only what they can bleed from our own suffering…

This is what the Finance Commission of Inquiry had to say about the co-chair of Australia’s Strategic Management Committee overseeing the new PNG Governance Facility, Isaac Lupari, and his K3.7 million fraud:

‘Mr. Isaac Lupari sued the State for breach of four separate contracts that were entered into as Secretary for the Departments of Finance, Defence, DPM and Transport in that order. He claimed that he had been unlawfully terminated from all those positions after serving short stints in each and claimed the balance of all pay and entitlements for the unexpired period of all four contracts’.

The Commission observes:

‘It will be clear from the evidence gathered so far that Mr. Lupari never suffered any loss of pay and entitlements, and was adequately remunerated by the State for the whole time that he claimed for and beyond’.

In summary the Commission of Inquiry found:

  • In 1997 Lupari was appointed Finance Secretary by Prime Minister Bill Skate, the mentor to our current PM, Mr O’Neill.
  • On 15 January 1998 he was sacked by the Skate government, but as fortune has it, the very same day he got the job of Defense Secretary.
  • On 17 March 2000 he was made Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management by the Morauta government, with a contracted end date of 29th of June 2000.
  • On the day his contract ended, Lupari was made Transport Secretary.
  • Nevertheless, Lupari claimed he was unlawfully dismissed as Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management.
  • His legal team was … Paul Paraka lawyers.
  • The Attorney General and Solicitor General settled the claim for a cool K1 million, which was paid by the Department of Finance on the 17 September 2004 by cheque No. 790468.
  • A further K2.7 million in settlements were agreed with Lupari, after he claimed he was also dismissed as Transport, Finance and Defense Secretary– the Commission was unable to find evidence of whether this money was paid.

The Commission concluded:

‘Mr. Isaac Lupari knew full well that his claims amounted to triple and quadruple dipping. Yet he went ahead and instructed his lawyers to file claims against the State in the National Court’.

‘Mr. Lupari was not entitled to the K3,703,461.31, either legally or morally. Paul Paraka lawyers engaged in deceptive conduct when filing Writs in the order they did’.

Read the Commission report on Issac Lupari  (220KB)

Strengthening the PNG-Australia Governance Partnership

CHIEF Secretary to Government Isaac Lupari and Australian High Commissioner, Bruce Davis, welcomed a new chapter in the PNG-Australia Governance Partnership. 

They chaired the first Strategic Management Committee meeting to oversee the new Papua New Guinea Governance Facility (PGF). 

The PGF will help consolidate and deliver our governance and economic cooperation around shared priorities.

“This reflects the close working partnership between our Governments.  Through the Strategic Management Committee, senior officials from both the Australian Government and Government of Papua New Guinea, including Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari CBE, will provide oversight of the economic and governance partnership to ensure it is aligned effectively to Papua New Guinea’s priorities,” said Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis.

Australia is committed to working in partnership with Papua New Guinea as Papua New Guinea progresses PNG Vision 2050.

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

February 7, 2017 4 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?

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1323 days and still counting…

February 6, 2017 1 comment

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Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

px-logo land grabbing

sabl cartoon

Duma Scandal Thickens – The Fox is in the Henhouse

February 6, 2017 3 comments

william-duma 

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. 

Has PM O’Neill appointed a fraudster to investigate the alleged Duma Fraud?

February 4, 2017 8 comments
lupari

Chief Sec Issac Lupari was condemned by the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance for being the mastermind of a multimillion dollar fraud

This week we were reminded why PNG needs an impartial, independent and well-resourced corruption fighting force – as Minister William Duma attempted to deflect attention from evidence pointing to his involvement in two major land grabs, worth tens, if not, hundreds of millions.

Prime Minister O’Neill assures us, the matter will be thoroughly investigated by Police Commissioner, Gary Baki – a close ally of the PM – and wait for it, his Chief Secretary Issac Lupari.

We can reveal that the Chief Secretary Issac Lupari was condemned by the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance for being the mastermind of a multimillion dollar fraud.

The Commission of Inquiry observed:

‘Mr. Issaac Lupari sued the State for breach of four separate contracts that were entered into as Secretary for the Departments of Finance, Defence, DPM and Transport in that order. He claimed that he had been unlawfully terminated from all those positions after serving short stints in each and claimed the balance of all pay and entitlements for the unexpired period of all four contracts’.

The Commission observes:

‘It will be clear from the evidence gathered so far that Mr. Lupari never suffered any loss of pay and entitlements, and was adequately remunerated by the State for the whole time that he claimed for and beyond’.

In summary the Commission of Inquiry found:

  • In 1997 Lupari was appointed Finance Secretary by Prime Minister Bill Skate, the mentor to our current PM, Mr O’Neill.
  • On 15 January 1998 he was sacked by the Skate government, but as fortune has it, the very same day he got the job of Defense Secretary.
  • On 17 March 2000 he was made Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management by the Morauta government, with a contracted end date of 29th of June 2000.
  • On the day his contract ended, Lupari was made Transport Secretary.
  • Nevertheless, Lupari claimed he was unlawfully dismissed as Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management.
  • His legal team was … Paul Paraka lawyers.
  • The Attorney General and Solicitor General settled the claim for a cool K1 million, which was paid by the Department of Finance on the 17 September 2004 by cheque No. 790468.
  • A further K2.7 million in settlements were agreed with Lupari, after he claimed he was also dismissed as Transport, Finance and Defense Secretary– the Commission was unable to find evidence of whether this money was paid.

The Commission concluded:

‘Mr. Isaac Lupari knew full well that his claims amounted to triple and quadruple dipping. Yet he went ahead and instructed his lawyers to file claims against the State in the National Court’.

‘Mr. Lupari was not entitled to the K3,703,461.31, either legally or morally. Paul Paraka lawyers engaged in deceptive conduct when filing Writs in the order they did’.

‘Paul Paraka Lawyers did not submit quantum submissions. Purported quantum submissions later produced to the Commission were fabricated after the Col summoned same from Mr. Guguna Garo of Paul Paraka Lawyers’.

‘Paul Paraka lawyers were paid K200,000.00 for each matter totaling K800,000 for doing a minimal amount of work. That work consisted only of drafting the four Writs of Summons. There were no appearances in Court and no protracted negotiations before agreement was reached to settle the four matters out of Court’.

Read the Commission report on Issac Lupari  (220KB)

So this is the honourable fellow who will now investigate the Duma allegations. The people of PNG will be forgiven for not holding much confidence in the process.

Which serves as a timely reminder, what happened to the Interim Office for Anti-Corruption which was to be headed by Judge Graham Ellis?

O’Neill disposed of Taskforce Sweep, and then aborted its replacement, seemingly in the dead of night when no one was looking.

If Lupari is now the moral barometer of anti-corruption investigations in PNG, god save us all.

Its time for O’Neill to implement the ICAC he promised, so an independent judicial authority, can scrutinize corruption.

The Duma Scandal Deepens – New Links and New Land Grabs

February 2, 2017 10 comments
william-duma

William Duma’s denials of involvement are contradicted by the facts

Minister William Duma informed parliament on Tuesday that he has no links to the company, Kurkuramb Estates, that is the beneficiary of a sweetheart deal worth K46.6 million to purchase land for a PNG Defence Force naval base.

PNG Blogs originally broke this story with some astute detective work. 

However, Duma’s attempt to wriggle out of the scandal, by claiming no connection to Kurkuramb Estates is futile. This network map shows the intimate connection between the two:

vis_duma-1

We can also reveal this is not the first time that Minister Duma has been implicated in a potentially corrupt land deal.

In a Judicial Review case before the Supreme Court in 2012, the company Noko 96 claimed that Duma’s company, Kopana Investments Limited, acquired their 5 state leases over harbourside land at Paga Hill, Port Moresby. The Supreme Court, noted with suspicion that in a short space of time the then Lands Minister Puka Temu:

  • forfeited five State Leases held by Noko; and
  • after forfeiting the leases, exempted the land to which they related (five blocks at Paga Hill, Port Moresby) from advertisement; and
  • granted new State Leases over the land to Kopana Investments Ltd, a company owned and controlled by the then Minister for Petroleum and Energy, Hon William Duma MP.

The court presented the suspicious timeline underpinning this sweetheart deal given by one member of Cabinet to another:

27 March 2009

:

Notice to show cause why leases should not be forfeited, posted to Noko.

27 April 2009

:

Kopana submitted applications regarding land covered by Noko’s five State leases to the Land Board.

1 July 2009

:

Department of Lands and Physical Planning sent reminder notice to Noko.

3 Sept 2009

:

Forfeiture notices published in National Gazette.

14 Sept 2009

:

Minister exempted land from advertisement.

29 Sept 2009

:

Land Board recommended leases be granted to Kopana.

12 Nov 2009

:

Publication in National Gazette of Kopana as successful applicant.

25 Nov2009

:

Five State Leases (previously held by Noko) granted to Kopana.

This all came at a very convenient time. Another company censured for its corruption, Paga Hill Development Company – led by Gudmundur Fridriksson – had just acquired a 99 state lease over a 13.7 hectare neighbouring property. The lease was issued on 03/04/2009. This, of course, is the developer who promises to build a ‘tourism city’, complete with 6-star hotels and a commercial grade marina, prepped and ready for APEC 2018.

Three weeks after the PHDC lease is issued, Duma, the ever astute businessmen, begins steps to acquire waterfront land which would be needed for this mega-development worth K3 billion. 

Despite the suspicious circumstances and the court revelations, an inside source claims Duma still retains ownership of the prime Paga Hill land.  And look who served as a Director at Malaga No.7 Limited – a vehicle owned by the Paga Hill Development Company. You guessed it, Minister Duma!

duma-fridriksson

It appears winners are grinners. No wonder 8 million Papua New Guineans are frowning right now!