MRDC'S SOUTH PACIFIC PEARL RESORT IN FIJI IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE


MRDC is the Trustee of funds belonging to Landowners of major resource projects in the country. It makes "investments" on behalf of the landowners. Peter O'Neil in his capacity as PM owns the shares of MRDC and Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari is the Chairman of the Board.

In 2012 CEO Augustine Mano and the MRDC board bought the fledgeling Resort in Fiji with much fanfare. The resort boasts an 18 hole golf course and numerous swimming pools. This transaction was rushed despite opposition from landowners and against the advice of experts in the hospitality industry in Fiji. MRDC not only purchased the resort but it also invested heavily in the construction of a new wing.

It appears that the resort is now in serious financial strife with very low occupancy rates and dwindling income. Rooms are believed to be offered now for as low as K120 as no one is going there. The financial status of the resort and all other MRDC investments cannot be confirmed as the financial statements have not been audited and published for the landowners for over 6 years now as required of the Trustee by law.

MRDC failed to conduct proper due diligence on the investment including asking the previous owners why they were selling. The tourist numbers and financial projects used to justify the investment are also understood to have been overly exaggerated.

Other controversial "investments" include the abandoned 4 Mile Casino Hevi Lift, and PNG AIR where the values of the original investments have decreased significantly meaning the landowners have suffered losses because of the poor investment decisions of Mano and his board. The rationale for investing almost a billion Kina in the Hohola Hilton is also confusing. It would be interesting to see the numbers used to determine an acceptable rate of return.

MRDC continues to squander poor landowner funds without any transparency and accountability while the landowners who the funds belong to suffer in 4th world conditions in the rural areas across the country.

The laws surrounding the operations 0f MRDC need to be reviewed Nd strengthened (after a thorough Audit of course).

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