THE TOKAUT BLOG

Petition to Prevent Logging on Woodlark Island and Investigate Possible Criminal Acts

PNGi has recently concluded a four-part exposé on an application to clear 30,000 hectares of forest on Woodlark Island under the guise of an agriculture and tree planting project.

The investigation has revealed numerous serious falsehoods, legal failures, inconsistencies and misinformation in the logging application.

Falling a call to the public, PNGi collected 193 signatures calling on the Managing Director of the PNG Forest Authority to reject the application for a logging permit and calling on Matthew Damaru, the Director of the National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate, to start a criminal investigation.

The letters were sent on 5 July 2018. We will keep readers updated on any progress.

The full text of the letters can be seen below.

Letter to the PNG Forest Authority

Managing Director
PNG Forest Authority

Dear Sir,

PNGi has conducted a series of investigations into the application for a Forest Clearance Authority submitted to the PNG Forest Authority by Kulawood Limited.

The investigation uncovered evidence that strongly indicates the proposal contains serious false representations, misleading information and lacks important details, including where the logging will actually take place. The false representation and other failings undermine the bona fides of both the applicant and the proposed activities.   

Even more crucial is the lack of any credible evidence of landowner consultation, awareness and consent that comes anywhere near the required legal standard.

We refer you to the four published reports on the PNGi Central website for more details on all of these issues: http://pngicentral.org/pngi-investigates

We, the undersigned, respectfully ask that the PNG Forest Authority reject the FCA application.

We have also written to the National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate asking they investigate Leonard Ng Chow Leung, the owner and a director of Kulawood Limited to determine whether the evidenced conduct constitutes making false representations with the intent to defraud or any other offence under the Criminal Code Act 1974.

Yours faithfully

Letter to the National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate

Mr Matthew Damaru,
Director, National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate,
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary

Dear Mr Damaru,

PNGi has conducted a series of investigations into a proposal for logging on Woodlark Island submitted to the PNG Forest Authority. The evidence uncovered indicates this proposal potentially contains false representations made with the intent to defraud.

We, the undersigned, respectfully ask that the National Fraud & Anti-Corruption Directorate investigate Leonard Ng Chow Leung, the owner and a director of Kulawood Limited over his role in making false representations with the intent to secure a Forest Clearance Authority allowing the clearance of 30,000 hectares of forest and the export of 840,000 cubic metres of logs worth some K280 million.

Name: Leonard Ng Chow Leung
Date of Birth: 26/11/1972
Address: Unit 12, Section 515, Lot 28, Waigani, National Capital District.

Allegation 1 – Local company

In the Forest Clearance Authority application, Leonard Ng Chow Leung has falsely represented that Kulawood is a ‘local company’. In fact, Leonard Ng Chow Leung, a Malaysian national, is and was at all material times the owner of all the shares in the company. The false pretence is repeated at least three times in the application and is supported by false and / or misleading information.

There is evidence to suggest this false representation was made in order to obtain access to a valuable security, namely a logging permit.

Allegation 2 – Landowner company

In the Forest Clearance Authority application, Leonard Ng Chow Leung has falsely represented that Ebony Woods Limited is a landowner company and is ‘composed of the leaders of every village within the project area’. Yet the company has only one director and one shareholder. The National Court, Kais v Tagau [2016] PGNC 1; N6159 (15 January 2016), has previously found in cases where a firm is held out as being a landowner company, but in fact is owned by a single individual, this qualifies as a fraudulent representation.

Allegation 3 – Shareholder capital

In the Forest Forest Clearance Authority application, Leonard Ng Chow Leung has represented that a capital investment of K10 million will be injected into the project from ‘Shareholder’s Capital’. Yet, Kulawood has no registered assets and a paid up share capital of just K100.

Allegation 4 – Department of Agriculture approval

In the Forest Clearance Authority application Leonard Ng Chow Leung has represented an agriculture development plan has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, but the DAL assessment report recommends a completely different set of agricultural activities (coconuts, pepper, food crops and livestock) to those proposed in the FCA application (tree plantations, rubber and cocoa).

We the undersigned believe the above examples offer prima facie evidence of serious illicit activity. There is a significant risk that Leonard Ng Chow Leung has deliberately attempted to obtain timber logs worth roughly around K280 million by false pretences. We request that an investigation be conducted to establish whether there is evidence of breaches of Sections 404 (Obtaining Goods by False Pretence) and / or 407 (Conspiracy to Defraud) or any other relevant provision of the Criminal Code Act 1974.

Yours faithfully,