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Government fails to resuscitate RIPEL

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 30, 2010) – The National government has again failed to resuscitate the Russell Islands Plantation Estate Limited (RIPEL) which is now headed towards liquidation.

Acting on behalf of mortgagee creditors who lent RIPEL money, lawyers served the Prime Minister’s office, with a notice in November which expired on December 14 2010.

In the notice the government (which has shares in RIPEL) was given one last chance to fully engage in dialogue with the lawyers about RIPEL, otherwise options would be limited and control taken away from all, with a receiver appointed.

The government was understood to have failed to respond to the notice, meaning lawyers would continue on behalf of the mortagee creditors and appoint recievers.

In such an appointment, the board of directors and shareholders’ rights would be suspended and control removed from them.

All other parties, including the Solomon Island Government, would also automatically lose its control.

Mortagee creditors of RIPEL are Pacific Finance Limited and Cross Pacific Trading Limited.

The government when sent a list of questions as to why they failed to respond to the notice neglected to answer questions from the Solomon Star.

They promised to explain last week but since no answers were forthcoming.

The mortagee creditors of RIPEL will have power over RIPEL if they are appointed as recievers.

This means, the authority over RIPEL falls back into director, Patrick Wong’s court because he owns the two companies (Pacific Finance Limited and Cross Pacific Trading Limited).

The creditors will then sell whatever assets belong to RIPEL including land, to recover their money.

Mr Wong when contacted in Sydney, Australia said it did not matter whether he owned the creditor companies or not.

"What matters is who lent money to RIPEL and that money was not paid back," he said.

"It could be the banks that lent money to RIPEL, they could be the reciever here, but because my other two companies (creditors) had lent money to RIPEL because they have money, they will become receivers."

Mr Wong said there was a very real possibility that RIPEL could go into receivership.

"But I cannot comment any further, as lawyers are in continuing discussions with the Solomon Islands Government," he said.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) corruption squad said investigations into the matter were continuing.

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