16 Sep 2013

PNG Lands Ministry to open up a box of questionable land dealings

5:05 pm on 16 September 2013

Papua New Guinea's Ministry of Lands has invited complaints about land dealings throughout PNG and is commissioning a team to investigate all land deals alleged to have been fraudulent.

The minister Benny Allen says many complaints are filing in and some relate to corrupt dealings within the department.

He spoke to Johnny Blades about the process.

BENNY ALLEN: We are collecting all complaints, all complaints from the public, and asking anyone who is aggrieved over any decision, over any transaction that has taken place over the years, they are now lodging all their complaints to those complaint desk. It's sort of a sealed box that is available to put in any complaint that they have. At the moment we are in the process of opening up the box and looking at all the complaints that are lodged into this box and investigating into all allegations that are raised by the public, the clients who are aggrieved over certain decisions that the board or the department officers may have entertained a transaction that is probably fraudulent and so forth.

JOHNNY BLADES: If the box is at your ministry's headquarters in Moresby, does that mean that people from other parts of the country, more remote parts, are they still able to lodge complaints? It might be difficult for them to get their complaint in.

BA: Yes. When this was announced early in March we did put out an ad in the paper saying we are now receiving complaints from the public, so if anybody wants to lodge a complaint they forward their complaint to this address. We've given that address, and I believe they're coming from other parts of the country, as well.

JB: Is it your belief that there are many fraudulently obtained leases or titles out there?

BA" Yes. There are some that come to my office that we are also addressing at the moment. There's one case where a fake title was issued to an investor who wanted to do an investment up to 300 or 400 million [kina]. Someone decided to entertain the client by issuing a fake title. And it was brought to my office. And then the developer, or the investor, wanted to know how he would go about obtaining a title, and I said 'Hold on. You already have a title here'. So when I checked through the file, the original title was with another firm. And the one that he brought into my office was a fake one. This was done by a senior officer within the department, so we are now dealing with the officer. Yes, there are also similar cases,