9 Aug 2005

Police in PNG's Bougainville seek Briton, Australian over investment scam

8:32 am on 9 August 2005

Police on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville are seeking a British man and his Australian companion believed to part of an investment scam.

The Englishman James Nesbitt and Australian Jeff Richards arrived at the disused airport of Aropa last September on an illegal flight.

They are understood to have been invited by the Me'ekamui Defence Force, led by the late Francis Ona.

Bougainville authorities believe the pair were recruited by the dissident Noah Musingku to promote a pyramid selling scheme thought to have attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment.

The pair also fooled people into thinking the British Queen would visit Bougainville.

The autonomous president, Joseph Kabui, said claims of the Queen's visit were fuelled by rumours that the system was about to pay out thousands of dollars.

Mr Kabui says lots of people spent the weekend before May 17th at the Aropa airport, waiting for the Queen.

He says they waited without result and left in anger and frustration.

Mr Kabui says such lies could distract the people of Bougainville away from the real hard work he says is needed to build peace and the economy.