Investor Loses US$10 million in Bewani
Malaysian investor is now demanding 80 percent of shares in the Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited, a landowner company from Vanimo or be reimbursed for all the expenses incurred totalling US$10 million.
Maxland (PNG) Limited whose sole shareholder Andrew Lim is the Managing Director of Pricewood Products Berhad of Sandakan, Sabah Malaysia was misled into spending more than US$10 million dollars between 2007 up until 2009.
Maxland (PNG) Limited was approached by the member for Vanimo/Green Belden Namah in his capacity as Minister for Forest in the previous Somare government. Mr Namah expressed the desire for Lim’s company to finance and develop the Bewani agro forestry palm oil project in the Sandaun Province. Mr Lim was interested and undertook to be involved in every aspect of the project including funding and management.
Mr Lim and his company Maxland (PNG) Limited were led to believe that they will manage and operate the Bewani palm oil project through the landowner company Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited (BPODL).
At the request of Minister Namah and his business partner Jimmy Tse, Lim and his company remitted a substantial amount of money to the tune of US$10 million to various accounts in PNG, Fiji, American Samoa and Hong Kong.
While Maxland (PNG) Limited was seriously committing itself to funding and managing the Bewani Oil Palm Project, Jimmy Tse secretly committed another company, Bewani Palms Management Limited (BPLM) to manage the project. Lim was not made aware of this and yet Jimmy Tse and Minister Namah were receiving funds from his company some of which were transferred to BPODL to finance the management agreement.
According to documents, Bewani Palms Management Limited was incorporated on the 06th of March 2008. It described itself as a company rendering expertise and technical support in management and corporate governance. At the time of its incorporation, a Papua New Guinean known as Philip Eledume an accountant by profession was the company secretary and sole director.
The Joint Venture (JV) Agreement between BPODL and Maxland (PNG) Limited dated 08th of September 2008 provided for the transfer of 80% shares on BPODL to Maxland. Other parties in the JV Agreement were BPML as the proposer and three landowner companies namely Palms 21 Limited, Bulaulai Limited and Ossima Yalamaki Limited. Maxland is identified in the JV Agreement as the developer.
In the JV Agreement, the developer Maxland (PNG) Limited will acquire 80% interest, the three landowner companies 15% and Bewani Palms Management Limited as the proposer will hold five percent interest.
Despite being signatories to the JV Agreement, none of them actual have shares in Bewani Palm Oil Development Limited. Jimmy Tse appears to be the sole shareholder and Director of BPODL. Maxland through Andrew Lim was not made aware of the shareholding composition.
The share transfer instruments dated 10th September 2008 executed by Jimmy Tse through his lawyers Fairfax Legal were never lodged with Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) nor were they entered into the share register of the company as required under the Companies Act.
Mr Lim was actually misled into signing the JV of BPODL and another entity Octopus Resource Limited that landowners approval were secured, the landowners from the project area signed a petition on the 01st of October 2008 stating they were neither consulted nor did they give their approval for the acquisition of the subject land in the project area.
The project area of land is described as Allotment/Portion 1600 Section/Millinch Oenake (SW) and (SE), Bewani (NW) and (NE) Town/Fourmil Vanimo, Aitape in the West Sepik Province, an area 139,509 hectares of customary land. The land area was acquired under the Special Agriculture and Business Lease which the subject of the SBAL inquiry in progress.
On the 04th of November 2008, shares in BPODL were discreetly increased from 100 to one million shares and Jimmy Tse secretly allotted himself 999,990 shares which effectively reduced Maxland’s interested to 0.1 percent in BPODL.
He falsely executed share transfer instruments for the transfer of 800,000 (80%) share in BPODL to Maxland on the 19th of March for the second time. The next day without Mr Lim’s knowledge Jimmy Tse executed share transfer instruments for the purported transfer of the same 800,000 (80%) shares in BPDOL to another company identified as Million Miles Group Limited.
On March 26th 2009, Andrew Lim met Minister Namah and Jimmy Tse wherein the Minister urged Mr. Lim to enter into a joint venture with Peter Hii of Million Miles Group Limited to develop the project. Mr. Lim was surprised and disappointed and rejected the suggestion. At no time during the meeting did Minister Namah or Jimmy Tse inform Mr. Lim that share transfer instruments purporting to transfer 80% of shares in BPODL to Mr. Hii’s company have been executed. The information was kept secret.
It’s seems Mr. Andrew Lim and his company Maxland (PNG) Limited has been taken for a long ride all along for the purpose of getting money out of him and under the pretence that it was for the Bewani Oil Palm project.
According to the list of all expenses incurred between 2007 to 2009, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Forest Belden Namah received cash to the tune of US$449,153.85 posted through banks in PNG, Fiji and Singapore.
Mr Lim and his company wants 80% of the shares in BPODL or to be reimbursed for all the expenses they have incurred and only on the basis of the latter will they walk away from the project. It is understood Mr Lim and his company has initiated a litigation process to recoup their lost money.