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Posts Tagged ‘Romilly Kila Pat’

Lands Secretary suspended but corruption remains

September 29, 2015 1 comment

Secretary for Lands Romily Kila-Pat has finally been suspended – you can read some of the newspaper coverage from last week below – but the corruption in the Lands Department has yet to be properly addressed.

Kila-Pat, like his predecessor Pepi Kimas, has overseen numerous illegal lands deals and was infamously involved in many of the unlawful SABL leases – but the corruption in the Lands Department runs far deeper and two important questions need answering:

  1. Why has it taken so long for any action to be taken against Kila-Pat?
  2. When are we going to see decisive and effective action – including criminal prosecutions – against all the Lands officers involved in corrupt deals?

For evidence of the depth of the problems in the Lands Department we need look no further than Minister Benny Allen. This is what he said in October 2012:

“I have seen first hand the blatant abuse of due process thereby promoting corruption and high level of inefficiency within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning. The system of land administration is corrupt and dysfunctional.”

But it was a full year later before, in September 2013, the Minister said he had set up a special investigation team to look at all the questionable land deals within his department. But we never heard anything more about that investigation team and can only presume it was just a cover story for continuing business as usual.

So, the Minister has sat back for three years and done nothing about the corruption – it is easy to conclude why…

In 2013 the SABL Commission of Inquiry identified Kila-Pat’s role in many of the unlawful SABL leases – but bizarrely the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill left Kila-Pat as Secretary while at the same time promising action to cancel the leases.

Of course those promises from our Prime Minister have never been fulfilled. It is easy to conclude why…

As far back as 2007 the Public Accounts Committee declared:

‘The Department of Lands and Physical Planning has become an arm of private enterprise [who is] responsible for allocating Leases regardless of the Law and to the very considerable cost of the State and the citizens of Papua New Guinea’.

But of course the politicians just looked on and did nothing to investigate the leases or deal with the Lands officers involved – any suggestions why that might have been?

Even the courts have noted and condemned the corruption in the Department of Lands. This was Justice Kandakasi just a few months ago:

“Sitting in the National and Supreme Courts for a while now, I have come across more cases of possible fraud facilitated by the Registrar of Titles and other officers of the Department of Lands. This must stop and the only way to do that is to have proper investigations and those responsible being criminally charged and proceeded with. I would therefore strongly recommend (since I cannot direct the police) that the police take the relevant and necessary steps right away”.

Our new Secretary for Lands says his Department is riddled with corruption and he wants more transparency (see news story below). But..

  • When will see any of the SABL leases canceled?
  • When will we see see any other Lands Department officers suspended?
  • When will we see them and Kila-Pat prosecuted?

These are the questions Sipison needs to answer if we are not to view his appointment as anything other than short-term political expediency designed to lift the heat before the corruption continues as usual…

Sipison wants transparency
Source: The National, Friday September 25th, 2015
Acting Lands and Physical Planning Secretary Luther Sipison aims to bring about more “transparency” in the department after years of allegations of corruption by officers.
He said that after his appointment was formally gazetted on Wednesday and his predecessor Romily Kila Pat suspended.
“The people deserve to be informed of what is happening (within the department),” Sipison said.
“I’m taking up the office with transparency.
“The office belongs to the seven million people of this country.
“They must know what is happening within this office, within the department.”
Sipison said the gazettal was “long overdue”.
“They should have done it after the suspension but it’s taken three weeks. We have a special executive meeting (today) and we go from there.”

State confirms Lands position
Source:  The National, Thursday September 24th, 2015
THE Government has confirmed in a gazette the suspension of Romilly Kila Pat as Lands and Physical Planning secretary, and the appointment of Luther Sipison in an acting capacity.
The gazette dated yesterday, Sept 23, was signed by acting Governor-General Theodore Zurenuoc.
It is effective from Sept 3. Sipison is acting secretary for three months.
Sipison had complained on Monday that Kila Pat was still occupying the office, thus creating confusion among staff members.
Kila Pat in response said he had not been served any formal notice about his suspension, thus would remain in office until such time he received one. “It’s simple: I have not been officially advised by the relevant authorities,” he told The National.
“I’m aware of my suspension. But normally the process is, once the NEC makes a decision, the Prime Minister signs that decision.
“It goes back again through the process, being noted by NEC, and it goes through the people who administer my contract, the Department of Personnel Management, who make an acting appointment. That appointment gets gazetted and they will formally convey it to me.
“I need to know these things properly. I need to hand over responsibilities to the acting appointment, who is one of my deputy secretaries (Sipison).”

Corrupted land deal allegations rife: Sipison
Source: The National, Wednesday September 23rd, 2015
Acting Lands and Physical Planning Acting Secretary Luther Sipison admits that his department is teeming with allegations of corrupt land deals by his officers.
Sipison, who is now in the hot seat following the suspension of Romily Kila Pat by the National Executive Council earlier this month, made the frank admission in an interview with The National on Monday.
“I think the problem (corruption) is a chronic one that has existed for a long time and it’s going to take a while to address this issue,” he said.
“If we are going to be true and transparent in our dealings, maybe what we can do is to reshuffle staff – it’s about corruption within the department, not management.
“To address this, we have to look at the reasons behind this happening within the department and a culture that allows this to exist.
“It’s quite complex. It’s not a matter of you changing the secretary and everything will just change.
“I’m confident that we have good people within the department.
“We can start from some place to change the department’s image and its future.”
Sipison has moved in fast to address claims by real estate businessman Michael Kandiu that he was a victim of fraudulent deals by the department.
Kandiu claimed that his land at Portion 1671 (Bomana), Granville, National Capital District, was forfeited by the department.
“I’m going to do my bit to address issues. I think the best thing to do is to expose the rot that exists within the department.”

Kila Pat refuses to leave office
Source:  The National, Tuesday September 22nd, 2015
SUSPENDED Lands and Physical Planning secretary Romily Kila Pat, pictured, is refusing to vacate his office, according to acting secretary Luther Sipison.
Sipison, who was appointed acting secretary by Cabinet on September 3, told The National yesterday that it was creating confusion in the department.
But Kila Pat yesterday clarified that he had not been served a formal suspension notice, hence, would remain in office.
Sipison said: “The appointment was made three weeks ago but I am still to move into the office because the suspended secretary (Kila Pat) is still in the office.
“He’s claiming that he hasn’t been formally notified (of his suspension) by the Department of Personnel Management.
“That’s why he’s still in there. Protocol is for me to sign the instruments.
“But why is it taking too long? I do not know.
“This will be the fourth week,” he said.
Sipison said the National Executive Council had already made the decision. “The decision has been made and those responsible for that decision must do the right thing so that there is a smooth handover, so that my appointment can come into effect and we move on in the department,” he said.
“Morale in the department is low, the staff are confused.
“The suspension has been made but the suspended secretary is still running the show.”
Sipison said Kila Pat was suspended over a number of allegations against him on land deals.
“I was appointed on September 3 by the National Executive Council,” Sipison said.
“That process has to go through the normal gazettal, but I haven’t sighted it as yet.”
Kila Pat when contacted said: “I am still in office.
“It’s simple. I have not been officially advised by the relevant authorities.
“I’m aware of my suspension, but normally the process is I’m a contract officer.
“Once the National Executive Council makes a decision, the Prime Minister signs that decision.
“It goes back again through the process, being noted by the National Executive Council, and it goes through the people who administer my contract, the Department of Personnel Management, who make an acting appointment.
“That appointment gets gazetted and they will formally convey it to me.
“The decision by National Executive Council is a decision until it goes through this process.
“I need to know these things properly.
“I need to hand over responsibilities to the acting appointment, who is one of my deputy secretaries (Sipison).”
Kila-Pat said he had already spoken with Sipison.
“I’ve spoken with him (Sipison) already. It’s okay,” he said.
“It’s the decision of the government.
“Whatever the allegations are against me, I will respond to them.
“My being in office is just to maintain continuity.
“I’m just waiting for the decision. Once I get it, I’m gone,” Kila Pat said.

Compulsory purchase scandal: Firewall Logistics warned not to deal with land group

April 16, 2015 1 comment

The Department of Land has recently gazetted the compulsory purchase of 12.5 hectares of customary land known as Portion 2467C. The land lies between the Napanapa Oil Rifinery and the Exxon Mobil LNG plant just outside Port Moresby.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1According to the notice signed by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila Pat, the compulsory purchase was made “for the purpose of a contract of sale agreement between Ohobiduduare Land Group of Roka Village and Firewall Logistics”.

Yet, according to media reports, the Central Provincial Lands Court in a ruling on 2nd September 2014, declared the Kuriu Clan as the major landowning group of Portion 2467C. The Court also found the land had been illegally registered under a Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) by the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company.

The Central Provincial Lands Court ordered a number of companies, including Firewall Logistics, to stop making payments to the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company as they were illegally occupying land which the Ohobiduduare did not own.

Despite these findings it appears the Ohobiduduare are still claiming ownership on Portion 2467C and it is on the basis of those claims that the compulsory purchase order has been made.

In its company literature Firewall Logistics make a big play of its understanding of the importance of customary land ownership and the connection of people to their land. Firewall claims it is “passionate about community inclusion” and states:

“Doing business in PNG requires a high degree of community involvement. Inclusion lies at the very core of our company DNA” which includes “demonstrating respect for the local landowners’ indisputable connection to their land”.

Time will surely reveal whether such commitments have been honored in the company’s acquisition of Portion 2467C. An acquisition made under the hand of Rimilly Kila Pat who has been linked to numerous unlawful and illegal land deals and was recommended for criminal prosecution for his role in the SABL land grab.

Australian owned company beneficiary of compulsory purchase order

April 14, 2015 4 comments

The Department of Lands has used the compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act to acquire a 12.5 hectare block of customary land outside Port Moresby and grant a 99-year lease to a company called Firewall Logistics – read more here.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1According to the Gazette Notice signed by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila Pat, the land was previously held under an SABL lease but has been compulsorily acquired to ‘guarantee security of tenure’. SABL leases have been exposed as a fraudulent and illegal land grab by a Commission of Inquiry.

Firewall Logistics describes itself as:

an experienced and skilled team of project management experts, anthropologists and mining, oil and gas exploration specialists

The company is owned by two Australians, Arthur Llewllyn Jones and Craig Douglas McConaghy. They are also the directors of the company, together with another Australian, Brendan Joseph Cannon,.

Although foreign owned, Firewall Logistics is listed with the Investment promotion Authority as a local PNG company.

dudley street

Cannon’s home in Brisbane was valued at $1.3 million back in 2010

Jones and McConaghy are listed as residents of Port Moresby and Goroka respectively, while Cannon lives in a million dollar house in the Brisbane suburb of Sherwood.

Despite acquiring the customary land through a compulsory acquisition process, Firewall insists on its website the company is “Passionate about community inclusion”

“Doing business in PNG requires a high degree of community involvement. Inclusion lies at the very core of our company DNA” which includes “demonstrating respect for the local landowners’ indisputable connection to their land”.

Kila Pat was identified in the SABL Commission of Inquiry as being the facilitator of numerous illegal and unlawful land deals and was recommended to be “held accountable for his unlawful conduct and actions”.

The government has still not taken any action over the unlawful SABL land grab; has not cancelled the illegal leases; has not stopped the illegal logging; and has not held any public servants accountable.

Compulsory purchase used to seize land and replace flawed SABL lease

April 13, 2015 6 comments

px-logo land grabbing

It seems the Department of Lands could be about to embark on a scheme to replace the now discredited and unlawful SABL leases with new land titles acquired using the compulsory acquisition powers in the Lands Act.

The SABL Commission of Inquiry has exposed how the Department of Lands fraudulently issued 99-year leases over large parcels of customary land totaling some 5.2 million hectares. The SABL leases were issued to foreign companies without following the mandated processes in the Lands Act and without the informed consent of customary landowners.

The Commission of Inquiry recommended the illegal leases be revoked but the government has failed to follow this advice. The only SABL leases that have been revoked are those that have been challenged through the courts and declared null and void by a judge. But the companies holding SABL leases remain nervous that their unlawfully acquired rights could be extinguished at some point in the future and are looking for ways to protect their positions. And its seems that once again, it could be the Department of Lands that comes to their assistance.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1The Department has recently used the compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act to acquire Portion 2467C, a block of water front customary land outside Port Moresby that was previously subject to an SABL lease. The Department has issued a new 99 year lease over 12.5 hectares, now called Portion 2703C, to a company called Firewall Logistics. The compulsory acquisition was gazetted in a notice dated 4 March, 2015 (see below).

This appears to be an attempt to override any flaws in the original SABL lease and insure the company gets a defensible title to the land.

The compulsory purchase powers in the Lands Act are specifically supposed to be used only for public purposes such as acquiring land for schools, clinics or subsistence agriculture. To use those powers to benefit a private company seems to be a breach of the Lands Act and unlawful. But acting unlawfully is something that is very much the norm in the Lands Department.

The land that has been compulsorily acquired sits alongside two other land portions also subject to SABL leases and that were investigated by the Commission of Inquiry.

The CoI found Portions 2465C and 2466C were fraudulently obtained by the Kassman family under three SABL leases. The Commission concluded:

“There was misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [Report p164], and landowner signatures were forged in “a criminal act” [p150].

“The whole process was riddled with defects and flaws” [p157] and “it was obvious that officers from DLPP [including] Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices” [p153].

The CoI recommended:

“those responsible must be held accountable for their unlawful conduct and actions” [p165]

Of course nobody has been held accountable, and ironically Romilly Kila Pat (despite his numerous crimes) is still Secretary for the Department of Lands and, as the delegate of the Minister, issued the notice of Compulsory Acquisition for the new lease.

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p1

Gazette No.G146_4Mar15_p2

Judge slams Lands Department corruption and calls for police action

March 12, 2015 18 comments

Justice Kandakasi has slammed the widespread corruption in the Department of Lands and has called for police action against those public servants responsible for a long history of fraudulent leases and corrupt land deals.

In delivering his judgement in the case of Loa -v- Kimas, a case involving yet another fraudulent lease facilitated and enabled by people in the Department of Lands, the judge has stated:

Sitting in the National and Supreme Courts for a while now, I have come across more cases of possible fraud facilitated by the Registrar of Titles and other officers of the Department of Lands. This must stop and the only way to do that is to have proper investigations and those responsible being criminally charged and proceeded with. I would therefore strongly recommend (since I cannot direct the police) that the police take the relevant and necessary steps right away.

The judges comments come on the back of the SABL Commission of Inquiry which revealed more than 5 million hectares of customary land has been illegally leased to foreign companies by the Lands Department.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly called for the SABL leases to be revoked but as nobody has taken any action to remove the corrupt and incompetent officers responsible for issuing the leases – including acting Secretary Romilly Kila-Pat and Lands Title Registrar Ben Samson – nothing has been done to cancel the leases.

Even the Minister for Lands has described his own Department as corrupt and dysfunctional:

I have seen first hand the blatant abuse of due process thereby promoting corruption and high level of inefficiency within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning. The system of land administration is corrupt and dysfunctional.”

Blatant abuse of process facilitated by staff within the Department over the years has led to large areas of customary land being fraudulently leased to foreigners for as long as 99 years throughout the country.

In the interests of protecting Papua New Guinea land from being fraudulently transacted I will ensure that the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the issuance of SABL are fully implemented.

Address at NRI, 29 October 2012

But again, no action has been taken to remove, let alone punish, the public servants responsible for this miserable state of affairs.

Why are our politicians so weak and seemingly unable to take decisive action against those involved in illegal and corrupt activities? Is it because the politicians themselves are also complicit in the illegal deals?

O’Neill’s illegal logging: Corrupt officials to block SABL reforms

July 1, 2014 3 comments

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The same corrupt officials in the Department of Lands who facilitated the illegal SABL land grab are now blocking the implementation of the Commission of Inquiry recommendation to revoke the unlawful leases, as Radio Australia reveals below.

While sitting on the Commission of Inquiry report for more than a year the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Lands Minister Benny Allen have failed to act on promises to eradicate the corruption and remove the officers responsible. They  have even left one of the main facilitators of the land grab, Romilly Kila-Pat, as Secretary of the Department!

Return of titles to PNG land scandal victims delayed

By Jemima Garrett for ABC Radio Australia

Critics say the leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and many have been granted without the permission of traditional owners. (Credit: ABC licensed)

The leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and have been granted without the permission of traditional owners. (Credit: ABC licensed)

The return of millions of hectares of Papua New Guinean land to traditional owners affected by a land-leasing scandal has been delayed.

The return of millions of hectares of Papua New Guinean land to traditional owners affected by a land-leasing scandal has been delayed.

Lands Department Secretary Romily Kila-Pat last week told Pacific Beat hundreds of thousands of affected landowners could expect to have their land back by Monday, but it has been revealed that it will take longer than a week to process the cancellation of leases.

His comments came after PNG’s National Executive Council (NEC) ordered the cancellation of 25 Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) as recommended by a Commission of Inquiry.

Land Titles Registrar Benjamin Samson is overseeing the cancellation of leases and says the legal process will take longer than a week.

“By law we have to give [the leaseholders] 14 working days for them to deliver up the title, the owner’s copy that is in the hands of the leaseholders,” he said.

Mr Samson says the process is more involved than previously indicated, requiring ordering of summons for the 25 SABLs before lease cancellation.

“The law is designed as such that before cancellation is to be done a notice, which is called a summons has to be issued to the respective leaseholders,” he said.

“[Because] some leaseholders might want to challenge the decision that we would undertake but I mean, as the agent of state, we are here to comply with the decision of the government of the day so that is another matter for the leaseholders to pursue.”

Mr Samson says the return of land could be delayed further in the likely event that leaseholders decide to challenge the NEC’s decision in court.

“Well, if they do obtain an injunction, if the matter goes before the court, then of course we will have to await the outcome of the court decision before the cancellation can be fully-effected,” he said.

“I think a number of leaseholders, especially those lease-holders or those companies, who on the ground have expended a lot of money, they might want to pursue it in court but I am not sure.

“We will wait and see if we are served those court documents or not.”

Mr Samson expects the first leases to be cancelled by mid-July.

Kila-Pat grilled over his role in SABL land grab scandal

June 26, 2014 1 comment
Critics say the leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and many have been granted without the permission of traditional owners. (Credit: ABC licensed)

The SABL leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and many were granted without the permission of traditional owners. (Credit: ABC)

ABC Radio Australia has challenged Department of Lands Secretary Romilly Kila-Pat over his role in the illegal SABL land grab – a role exposed on this blog.

The Commission of Inquiry found Kila Pat was at the centre of widespread corruption and mismanagement in the Department of Lands – the departments tasked with protecting landowners. But, bizarrely not only has he escaped any sanction, he is now the man expected to oversee the revocation of the leases.

Kila-Pat was clearly surprised to be challenged about his role in the SABL scandal:

GARRETT: The commission of inquiry identified tha Lands department as one of the biggest areas where corruption had taken place. What are you doing to ensure that officer involved in corruption do face justice?

KILA-PAT: Actually, i think we need to understand the process of SABL before we conclude there is corruption. The department of Lands and Physical Planning plays a facilitation role. The people who drive SABL are basically the landowners. They themselves come forward to the department and say we want this land to be issued an SABL title and we just facilitate the process of issuing an SABL title based on landowner requests.

GARRETT: Nevertheless, the fact that 25 SABLs are being cancelled and the Commission of Inquiry did find a lot of problems in the Lands department. Will any of your officer be disciplined or stood down from their roles and a result of their role in what has happened?

KILA-PAT: that is very important. I have made my commitments. I have started dealing with officers already. As and when those who are found to be doing something wrong, my position is very clear that we don’t need to have them in the department. We should let them go. But at this stage, we still have outstanding issues to be dealt with by the task force so as soon as they complete everything, we will deal with everything as it unfolds.

GARRETT: The Commission of Inquiry found you, yourself, had issued some Special Agricultural and business leases unlawfully. Should you be in charge of the department as it tries to fix this problem?

KILA-PAT: um, I think what has actually happened now is that I am not going to fix the problems because the task force has been set up so everything will be dealt with by the taskforce. Basically, there are a number of issues that we need to deal with. I think one that is very, very critical in nature is the legislation. OK. The legislation that deals with the issuance of SABLs needs to be changed but, in this case, we are now repealing that particular law that allowed for SABLs. We now have a new law which is under customary land registration where landowners can now come and register their customary land.

GARRETT: Will you be investigated along with other officers named in the commission of Inquiry report?

KILA-PAT: That is a matter of the task force, should the task force make those appropriate recommendations, then like I said, the government has now made recommendations for a task force to be set up to look into this matter.

SABL land grab: O’Neill puts the fox in charge of the hen house

June 24, 2014 6 comments

Lands Department Secretary Romily Kila Pat has has his dirty thieving hands all over the SABL land grab scandal – as we detail below.

But this is the man Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is entrusting with the job of revoking the illegal leases!

This is a complete joke and it shows just how shallow the Prime Minister’s commitment is to dealing with the SABL land grab.

Kila-Pat claims he has directed officers to start de-registering some of the leases identified in the Commission of Inquiry but how can we have any confidence in that process given Kila-Pat should be residing in Bomana!

Here are some of the findings of the Commission Inquiry relating to Kila-Pat:

Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]

“…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]

there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process”… “His [Kila-Pat] conduct was ‘highly suspicious”  [p164]

Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. [p59]

The lease issued by Kila Pat was so “fundamentally flawed” … it is “null and void” [p898].

According to the Commission of Inquiry Romily Kila-Pat was at the heart of some of the worst cases of abuse including:

  • Kila Pat as acting Secretary unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2465C in Central Province. Almost everything possibly wrong with an SABL was wrong with this lease. There was no valid Land Investigation report, no public hearings, no Certificate of Alienation, no informed consent from local landowners, the lease was issued to a non-landowner company owned by a single person with no connection to the land, the process was “hijacked” by DLPP and duress was used. The sublease was unlawful and the lease-lease back agreement fraudulent. The SABL was “improper and unlawful” [p157].
  • “…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]
  • Kila-Pat granted the SABL for Portion 2466C (457 hectares) when there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [p164]. His conduct was ‘highly suspicious” and the “Intimidation tactics used by officers from DLPP and the lawyers… is both unacceptable and unprofessional”. [p164]
  • Kila-Pat unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2541C in Port Moresby which ended up in the hands of Rimbunan Hijau. The LIR was defective and unreliable.There was an obvious lack of landowner consent. No Lease-leaseback instrument was executed so the State never obtained the right to create or issue a title, hence the SABL was defective, invalid and unlawful. Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]
  • Kila-Pat unlawfully issued an SABL over 22,850 hectares of customary land in Portion 40C in Sandaun Province to Ainbai-Elis Holdings Ltd in December 2010. Kila-Pat granted the SABL despite the fact the Land Investigation Process was not properly executed, the Land Investigation Report was badly done (and involved possible fraud and forgery), the Declaration as to Custom was not properly obtained, the SABL overlaps with an adjacent SABL (Portion 160C), and no transitional land rights were preserved (“a reckless failure” p75)
  • Kila-Pat issued an unlawful SABL over Portion 16C (211,600 hectares) despite the lease being so”fundamentally flawed” [p898] it is “null and void” [p898]. The defects included a “blank LIR [which] basically nullifies the SABL lease” [p886] and which was and “reckless and negligent” [p886], no Certificate of Alienability, complaints the landowners were forced to sign papers at night and without knowing what they were signing and an agriculture plan that “is not feasible to implement” [p898]

peter-o-neill

Crooked Aussies descend on Paga Hill… again

February 12, 2014 11 comments

In 2013, PNG Exposed revealed the crooked characters standing behind the demolition of Paga Hill in Port Moresby – which saw Dame Carol Kidu arrested and man-handled by heavily armed police.

one

The ‘development’ is led by Australian businessman, Gudmundur Fridriksson, a man slammed in two Auditor General reports and four Public Accounts Committee inquiries. In the most serious example, Fridriksson was accused by both the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee of stealing money from deceased Papua New Guinean estates entrusted to the Public Curator’s Office. Nice.

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The House Deceased Papua New Guineans Built – Fridriksson’s Plush QLD Residence

Not to be outdone, he is now trying to once again demolish a forty year old Port Moresby community, who first resided on the land at Paga at the invitation of its customary owners.

Subsequently the Australian High Court found that the colonial administration had successfully acquired the land from customary owners – for no compensation – a few ‘corrupt’ transactions later, and it got into the hands of Fridriksson and his Australian friends during the 1990s.

Now with the help of their Port Moresby lawyer, Stanley Liria, a friend of the Prime Minister, and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Nali, another friend of the Prime Minister, they have acquired an eviction order from the courts.

Of course, the Lands Secretary could cancel the lease, like was ordered back in 2006. But why would he? After all Mr Romilly Kila-Pat unlawfully dropped the rent for Fridriksson back in 2001, losing the state hundreds of thousands of Kina in rent! And his hands are all over illegal SABLs.

Birds of a feather flock together, it would appear.

The community have been told they have 45 days to get out of a place they have lived since the 1960s.

Fridriksson has offered Paga residents what will in effect be a tenancy at will over at six-mile on customary land, right next to a defunct dump full of hospital and industrial waste. Nice.

The community does not want to leave. Their leaders want to see Paga Hill’s national park status restored and Paga Hill turned into Port Moresby’s first community run arts, culture and history precinct. They certainly have the talent.

A song recorded by the community to document their abuse at the hands of Fridriksson.

In the land of the unexpected, you can expect one thing – speculators from abroad with a long list of infamies to their name, come first, and law abiding PNG citizens come last.

SABL Case Study No.8: Acting Lands Secretary Romilly Kila-Pat

December 6, 2013 7 comments

Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]

“…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]

there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process”… “His conduct was ‘highly suspicious”  [p164]

 Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. [p59]

  The lease issued by Kila Pat was so “fundamentally flawed” … it is “null and void” [p898].

SABL Commission of Inquiry Reports 1 and 2

Acting Secretary at the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, Romily Kila-Pat, has been heavily implicated by the Commission of Inquiry in some of the worst cases or abuse that it uncovered. Yet this is the man tasked by the Prime Minister to lead a committee to come up with recommendations based on the Commission of Inquiry findings!

“The Commission of Inquiry found widespread abuse, fraud, lack of coordination between agencies of government, failures and incompetence of government officials to ensure compliance, accountability and transparency… Statutory compliance with respect to process and procedures and effective monitoring and oversight is seriously lacking.” [p235]

What is the Prime Minister thinking? Is he really expecting the public to trust a process in which the people who have overseen the corruption, mismanagement and incompetence have been handed the task of sorting out the mess!

According to the Commission of Inquiry Romily Kila-Pat was at the heart of some of the worst cases of abuse including:

  • Kila Pat as acting Secretary unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2465C in Central Province. Almost everything possibly wrong with an SABL was wrong with this lease. There was no valid Land Investigation report, no public hearings, no Certificate of Alienation, no informed consent from local landowners, the lease was issued to a non-landowner company owned by a single person with no connection to the land, the process was “hijacked” by DLPP and duress was used. The sublease was unlawful and the lease-lease back agreement fraudulent. The SABL was “improper and unlawful” [p157].
  • “…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]
  • Kila-Pat granted the SABL for Portion 2466C when there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [p164]. His conduct was ‘highly suspicious” and the “Intimidation tactics used by officers from DLPP and the lawyers… is both unacceptable and unprofessional”. [p164]
  • Kila-Pat unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2541C in Port Moresby which ended up in the hands of Rimbunan Hijau. The LIR was defective and unreliable.There was an obvious lack of landowner consent. No Lease-leaseback instrument was executed so the State never obtained the right to create or issue a title, hence the SABL was defective, invalid and unlawful. Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]
  • Kila-Pat unlawfully issued an SABL over 22,850 hectares of customary land in Portion 40C in Sandaun Province to Ainbai-Elis Holdings Ltd in December 2010. Kila-Pat granted the SABL despite the fact the Land Investigation Process was not properly executed, the Land Investigation Report was badly done (and involved possible fraud and forgery), the Declaration as to Custom was not properly obtained, the SABL overlaps with an adjacent SABL (Portion 160C), and no transitional land rights were preserved (“a reckless failure” p75)
  • Kila-Pat issued an unlawful SABL over Portion 16C despite the lease being so”fundamentally flawed” [p898] it is “null and void” [p898]. The defects included a “blank LIR [which] basically nullifies the SABL lease” [p886] and which was and “reckless and negligent” [p886], no Certificate of Alienability, complaints the landowners were forced to sign papers at night and without knowing what they were signing and an agriculture plan that “is not feasible to implement” [p898]

The Commission of Inquiry has given clear recommendations the majority of the SABL leases should be REVOKED – their emphasis. Why is the Prime Minister ignoring their advice and going back to those implicated in the fraud for a second opinion?