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.