CON MAN PLIES TRADE FROM BOUGAINVILLE SANCTUARY

Editorial

The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 3, 2008) - Noah Musingku is a name that outrages many thousands of Papua New Guinean citizens.

Musingku was the driving force behind the U-Vistract financial scam, one that promised investors impossible earnings if our people would only deposit their savings with his get-rich quick-money system.

The total amount U-Vistract reaped will probably never be known. Many well-placed citizens gave and gave freely to this pyramid scheme. And few of them would want their names to be made public.

That is foolish, but understandable.

Nobody wants their financial affairs to be made public, especially when they embrace foolhardy investments in a system that could never have worked.

Church bodies, schools, businesses, leaders of commerce and industry and politicians are all reputed to have lodged substantial sums with the Bougainvillean. Worse still, hundreds of grassroots "investors" in Musingku’s scheme were rendered penniless when it inevitable crashed. Yet there are still a substantial number of our people who believe in this man and his money scams and are willing to place more money in his hands. This is despite the repeated warnings of PNG’s central bank and a host of other well-known and respected leaders.

Much of Musingku’s appeal stems from the aura of mysticism he carefully spreads around his operations. He is a self-declared "king" and our picture of him in The National yesterday showed that he is persisting with that charade.

Musingku has reportedly surfaced on the web with an international version of his U-Vistract scheme.

In an interview with The National, he told our reporter that he was well-established in Tonu, his headquarters on Bougainville, that he was linked by satellite to many countries and that he intended to run U-Vistract from there. The many headed Medusa rears again, it seems.

Nobody of any intelligence would under-estimate the difficulties of bringing this regal poseur to heel and at least attempting to return what may well be millions of kina to his long-suffering investors.

Musingku is very aware of the degree of invincibility he has as long as he stays in his declared headquarters. Yet the fact remains.

[PIR editor’s note: Noah Musingku, whose "U-Vistract" pyramid scheme bilked millions of dollars out of investors, has long been a fugitive from the law in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. But despite outstanding warrants for his arrest, Musingku has set up a new operation in Bougainville, where authorities have given him wide berth. ]

Too many Papua New Guineans, and for that matter, some of our neighboring Pacific island people are still suffering from the aftermath of this man’s confidence trick.

We assume that despite his aspirations to monarchy, he remains a PNG citizen. His overseas sorties testify to that, for no country would accept him with a home-made passport issued by a mythical kingdom.

If that assumption is correct, then he should be stripped of his citizenship.

As long as leaders treat him with velvet gloves, this cocky little person will continue to use his freedom and his citizenship and will doubtless wreak havoc once again in PNG and beyond.

One aspect of his power lies with our own people.

If many of our citizens were not living in poverty, either trying to eke out an existence in our cities and towns or scratch a living in our rural areas, Musingku’s appeal would be significantly lower.

Appeals from our leaders and banking sector not to invest in U-Vistract or similar money schemes will fall on deaf ears as long as people struggle to make ends meet.

In essence, his strength lies in the poverty of too many of our people and they form the grassroots basis for his appeal. The impact of this person upon PNG has gone on long enough.

Certainly we are not suggesting any move that would damage the very fragile peace on Bougainville. But we must recognize that the existence of this man, who would be king, will continue to place strains on Bougainville society and generally threaten the stability of the people and their elected government. It is all too easy to regard Musingku as simply one of the world’s confidence tricksters, a figure so preposterous that he can be dismissed from our minds.

As long as this man can maintain a hold over too many of our citizens and those of other countries, he will continue to represent a tangible threat to our own peace and harmony and that of our neighbors. It is time to write the last few lines of the Musingku saga.

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