MONEY LAUNDERING ALLEGATIONS HURT SAMOA NONU INDUSTRY

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Pure Pacifika clarifies snag in purchases

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 4, 2012) – An investigation into allegations of money laundering against Chinese businessman, Tupa’ilelei Jack Chen, has been cited as the reason for the oversupply of nonu in Samoa. So says Phillip Mc Nicholl, the Director Pure Pacifika Limited.

Last year, Pure Pacifika and Chinese businessman, Tupa’i Chen came to Samoa announcing grand plans for the nonu industry.

Last week, it emerged that those plans have hit a snag.

It appears the international nonu market has taken a nosedive and it seems to be spiralling out of control. The Nonu Association of Samoa warned that based on "evidence of an increasing worldwide recession," the market is declining.

The Association said the oversupply of nonu "is beyond our control, as Pure Pasifika seems to have stopped buying fruit on Upolu."

As a result, nonu growers in Samoa have been left with an abundance of nonu and no one wants to buy them. They may be forced to dump the produce at lower prices.

Yesterday, Mr Mc Nicholl reassured that they plan to get over the hurdle as soon as possible.

In a statement, he explained: "In the first instance, exporting activity had been focussed on meeting demand from the major Chinese juice producer and distributor with whom the company’s first significant supply contract was signed up to in June 2011. "Unfortunately, for the meantime at least, events have overtaken that contract in a most unexpected way.

"Regulatory investigations were commenced in Hong Kong against the promoters of that major Chinese customer. Prosecutions have been brought against Jack Chen and two of his colleagues, and investigations of transactions completely unrelated to the Samoan nonu industry are continuing.

"The reason that these unanticipated events are relevant is that the Hong Kong authorities have also taken the step of freezing assets and bank accounts of Mr Chen, his colleagues and their associate identities whilst investigations continue."

This is Pure Pacifika’s press statement in full:

"Pure Pacifika Samoa wishes to provide an update on the current status of the company’s nonu growing, harvesting and processing activities on both Upolu and Savai’i.

Pure Pacifika has made a substantial commitment to the local nonu industry, throughout Samoa but especially on Savai’i, where, historically, Savai’i growers have often only been called upon to supply fruit when other sources in Upolu have been exhausted.

Pure Pacifika has made a significant investment in Samoa and the capacity of its growers across both main islands. It has already established a world-class production facility at Vaitele to process and export Samoa’s premium quality and highly regarded nonu juice.

In the first instance, exporting activity had been focussed on meeting demand from the major Chinese juice producer and distributor with whom the company’s first significant supply contract was signed up to in June 2011. Unfortunately, for the meantime at least, events have overtaken that contract in a most unexpected way.

Regulatory investigations were commenced in Hong Kong against the promoters of that major Chinese customer. Prosecutions have been brought against Jack Chen and two of his colleagues, and investigations of transactions completely unrelated to the Samoan nonu industry are continuing.

The reason that these unanticipated events are relevant is that the Hong Kong authorities have also taken the step of freezing assets and bank accounts of Mr Chen, his colleagues and their associate identities whilst investigations continue.

Irrespective of the eventual outcome of the Hong Kong proceedings, the immediate effect is that the Chinese customer is unable to progress its production programme and product launch within the timeframe predicted. This means that it is not presently in a position to take more juice, although we have had assurances that it is working on solutions to its current situation.

Obviously Pure Pacifika is continuing to develop other markets and customers, throughout a number of countries, in line with its original global sales strategy and to ensure that the Samoa nonu industry has a sustainable future. Regrettably this process takes time, although contrary to recent reports in Samoa we continue to see positive demand for nonu globally for premium juice of the quality produced by Pure Pacifika.

Despite the current set-back, Pure Pacifika intends to maintain fruit collections on Savai’i, albeit at lower levels.

It intends to maintain what it has always regarded as a fair price for Samoan fruit.

It is cautiously optimistic that the volumes of fruit to be harvested and processed throughout Samoa will grow back to recent levels as either its existing Chinese customer resolves its current problems, or as new customers come on stream. Malo lava le onosa’i, Fa’afetai lava

Phillip McNicholl Director, Pure Pacifika Limited

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