Customary Land is being leased by the Lands Department by landowners. The department then leases it to businesses. In many cases it is alleged that the purpose for which the land is being used is not what was agreed to in the lease agreements with the landowners. In some cases it is alleged that landowners were not adequately consulted.
It is also alleged that large scale logging operations in the past (possibly ongoing) have been disguised as development projects using up nearly 5.2 million hectares of customary land.
A Commission of Inquiry (COI) was launched in June 2011 by the National Executive Council with commissioners John Numapo, Nicholas Mirau and Alois Jerewai in charge of the investigation and reporting its findings. The commissioners were given three months to produce a COI report. An extension was requested and granted to push the (parliamentary or public???) hearing dates to January 2012.
During the COI, no authorized suspensions of activity on the grants of new SABLs were made by Department of Lands and Physical Planning, regardless of the cabinet decision leading up to the COI.
Over one and a half years later, COI has produced only an interim report only and which is limited to providing a summary of the existing legal and administrative processes for issuing an SABL.
The unfinished report was tabled in parliament in late September 2013 with the PM expresses his disappointment that so many of the leases had not performed as they should.
Commission of Inquiry report incomplete and despite a moratorium being placed SABLs were still given out and operations of previous SABLs were not stopped during the inquiry and are still continuing.
Actions currently (October 2013) being taken by Government on this issue: None that we are aware of.
Action TIPNG wants to see
- The moratorium being implemented
- The COI report being finished
- The finished report tabled in parliament
- The report being made freely available
- Parliament taking actions on recommendations
- Those who have broken the law being prosecuted.
Useful Links: Google: The New Land Grab in Papua New Guinea
While Dr. John Mua was the CEO of MVIL, 100 million kina from the MVIL account was allegedly transferred without following proper procedures being applied. The funds were invested with a company in Lismore, NSW, Australia called Woodlawn Capital and then supposedly invested.
On the CEO being replaced, the MVIL board implemented an investigation through GadensLawyers and PWC and managed to bring back 9 million kina to PNG and froze the accounts of Woodlawn Capital Ltd, where another 50 million kina was identified.
It seems as if Woodlawn Capital Ltd, does not have the requisite licences to act as a fund manager and so has acted in breach of Australian financial laws.
It is as yet unclear where the remaining 41 million kina is. There have been claims that a portion was lost due to losses on investments as a consequence of the Global Financial Crisis.
In addition to this allegedly illegal 100 million kina transfer, there were also other apparently unexplained transactions on the MVIL account which in total appear to be worth about 50 million kina.
Some in the Social media have suggested that there is evidence that a very prominent former member of the PNG parliament have been involved in this- especially in regards to the role that member had in relation to the IPBC not giving approval.
It is also suggested that AUSTRAC the Australian body that is supposed to prevent money laundering could have taken a more active role in preventing incidents like this
Theft or at the very least gross mismanagement of public funds and improper process
Actions currently (September 2013) being taken by Government on this issue: On-going investigations by PWC and Gadens.
Action TIPNG wants to see
- The report to the MVIL board being prepared by Gadens and PWC being made freely available.
- That the government advise the public on the state of investigations into all other suspicious transactions on the MVIL account.
- Those who have broken PNG law being prosecuted – especially the former CEO and any MVIL senior staff who took no action to stop this -in a public trial.
- That any former or current members of parliament be prosecuted if they broke the law in any action they took in relation to the MVIL, or omitting to take an action that could have prevented this loss of public funds.
- Any board directors who took no action being sacked and being blacklisted so they cannot be on any other public boards
- The Australian Government prosecute the directors of Woodlawn Capital.
- That AUSTRAC pay more attention to large transfers like this.