PNG Prime Minister Orders Investigation Into Questionable Land Deal

Two ministers step aside; Five Department Heads suspended pending outcome 

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 7, 2017) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has sidelined two of his senior ministers and will suspend five departmental heads over the Manumanu land deal when Cabinet convenes. PM O’Neill also announced a Commission of Inquiry to be headed by a retired Judge who will be announced once the Terms of Reference and necessary instruments are in order.

At a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday, O’Neill announced Defence Minister Fabian Pok and State Enterprises Minister William Duma have stepped aside pending the Commission’s findings.

In the interim, the State Enterprises Ministry will be taken care of by National Planning Minister Charles Abel and the Defence Ministry will be taken care of by Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming.

Mr O’Neill has also recommended the NEC today suspend Defence Secretary Vali Asi, Lands and Physical Planning Secretary Luther Sipison, Valuer General Gabriel Michael, Kumul Consolidated Holdings Managing Director Garry Hersey and MVIL Managing Director Jerry Wemin, pending the outcome of this investigation.

"Following full examination of briefs provided to me by government agencies involving the Manumanu land deal in Central Province, it is in the public interest that I have decided to establish a Commission of Inquiry to examine the allegations that have been leveled against senior ministers and senior members of departments," Mr O’Neill said.

"I have also referred this matter to the Police Commissioner for the Fraud Squad to carry out its own investigation and also to the Ombudsman Commission, for their own investigations as well."

Mr O’Neill said the investigation’s focus will be on the purchase of portion 406 in Manumanu at a cost of K46 million [US$14 million] by Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH). Also under investigation will be the purchase of portions 422 for K7.2 million [US$2.2 million] and 423 for K9.2 million [US$2.8 million] by the Defence Department.

Other land transfers to be investigated are land portion 406, owned by Kurkuramb Estates Limited, portion 422 owned by Flystone Limited, portion 423 is owned by Kosi Investment Limited.

PNG Post-Courier
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