Paga Hill Water Frontage for K8,400 PA – Poh Dynasty Strike Another Bargain
Since the 1990s, the southern face of Port Moresby’s iconic Paga Hill has been a prime target for property developers. Once a green soaked national park, the land has been eviscerated beyond recognition by preliminary construction work.
The state lease over the waterfront land, since 2000, has been held by Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC). Under the leadership of its current owner, Gudmundur Fridriksson, PHDC has championed a mixed-use estate, consisting of a marina, retail centre, cultural centre, aquarium, 5 star hotel, restaurants, war museum and several residential apartment blocks (for a review of PHDC’s problematic track record see here).
Keen Paga Hill watchers, however, have been left scratching their heads recently after it was recently announced an underwhelming apartment block would be built on reclaimed land along the harbour foreshore. Not by Fridriksson and PHDC, but a new company, Twin Tower Development. According to its annual returns, Twin Tower Development has no employees.
The sole shareholder of Twin Tower Development is Malaysian national, So Jin Poh, often known by his anglicised name Jimmy Poh.
Using PNGi’s address checker tool (available here) it was also discovered that Twin Tower Development shares a registered address with MH Supplies, a company owned by Sir Sang Chung Poh the owner of Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals (where Jimmy Poh served as an executive director).
Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals’ questionable dealings in the area of medical procurement have reaped the Poh family vast fortunes, to the chagrin of anti-graft campaigners such as Transparency International.
Now it appears the Poh family are being congratulated by the Prime Minister for funnelling its profits into a new luxury apartment block on Paga Hill’s foreshore. At the ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed development Marape declared: ‘I thank the investors [Poh Family] for choosing to invest here’.
But who should be giving thanks?
PNGi has obtained lease documents which indicate this ultra-wealthy Malaysian family has obtained a state-lease over the prime waterfront location at Paga Hill, for an annual rent of just K8,400. The rent is calculated on the basis of 5% of the land’s unimproved value. In other words a block of prime water frontage in Paga Hill, one of the most expensive areas in Port Moresby, has been valued at just K168,000!
The 93 year lease was initially acquired on 24 March 2016 by a company, No.9 Neyapu Limited. The state lease was then transferred to Great Ocean Limited on 20 April 2017, a company owned by three Chinese nationals. Great Ocean Limited was in turn acquired by Twin Tower Development on 6 May 2022.
An investor memorandum prepared by PHDC, confirms the land is part of a ‘special economic zone’. Special economic zones are a contentious legal mechanism that exempt investors from tax and regulatory obligations. PHDC sets out the key exemptions granted in a table.
Given these tax exemptions, other benefits, and pepper-corn rents, it is perhaps counter-intuitive that the Prime Minister was the one thanking the Poh family.
Perhaps they plan to construct an iconic development with open spaces, recreation facilities and public amenities that makes this private development praise worthy? The computer generated images of the development suggest whats on offer is of questionable aesthetic or public merit.
It stands in contrast to the artist’s impression of PHDC’s Paga Hill Estate.
Then there is the question of what benefits go to Paga Hill’s traditional owners? Due to legal precedent from the colonial period, the traditional owners no longer have title to the hill and its surrounds. So it appears they will also be left empty handed – a fact pointed to by the Institute of National Affairs’ Executive Director, Paul Barker.
PNGi put the following questions to Jimmy Poh via Lee Partners who are administering Twin Towers Development’s corporate filings.
- How much did Twin Tower Development pay for the shares in Great Ocean Limited?
- Twin Tower Development has a 93 year lease over waterfront land at Paga Hill. The annual rent is K8,400 which is said to be 5% of the land’s unimproved value. Do you maintain that the land then is worth K168,000?
- Do you maintain that K8,400 is fair and proper annual rent for waterfront land in Paga Hill?
- What relationship or agreement does Twin Tower Development have with Paga Hill Development Company?
- What benefits and exemptions has Twin Tower Development been given under the Paga Hill special economic zone?
- Media reports suggest Twin Tower Development is making a K130 million investment? What is the source of this wealth?
- Besides yourself, does any other person have a direct/indirect beneficial interest in Twin Tower Development, for example, through share option agreements, loans, trust arrangements or other facilities? If so can transparent account be made of these arrangements?
- Are you able to provide a copy of the Master Plan for this project?
We did not receive a response.