Alleged scam: a blessing in disguise - Solomon Star News

Alleged scam: a blessing in disguise

28 August 2015

THIS week appears to be setting the stage for a showdown when Parliament meets next month.

In many ways, issues that have surfaced are playing into the hands of the Opposition, which could unleash a torrent of salvos come Question Time.

For example, SKL and its subsidiaries, a group of company being promoted here as a multi-million dollar investor, is now turning out to be anything but genuine.

It is now public knowledge, thanks to the mainstream media, that the so-called investments SKL and its subsidiaries are promoting in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands, are nothing more than a scam, if we are to believe the other side of the coin.

In Solomon Islands company representatives applied for and received a certificate of registration and a Certificate of Incorporation for its subsidiary, Solomon Islands Development Corporation (SIDC).

One or two other subsidiaries, according to newspaper reports even had a Government Minister as a director on their Boards – a potential conflict of interest for the MP.

SKL consists of a group of companies backed by a consortium of Asian billionaires. The source of where the billionaires amassed their fortune is a subject of conjecture and interest.

Is it “dirty” money being “washed” or laundered here?

It is a question that throws open all sorts of conclusions.

But there is such a thing as dirty money – that is why we have money laundering laws here and elsewhere overseas.

In its promotional drive to win hearts here earlier this year, the group chairman, Jason Liu Tao, promised the world – from tourism to public housing – to the government.

Some senior political appointees played along. Those who looked beyond money, however, were very cautious, conveying their concerns to the powers that be,

On hindsight though, the Government did not seem to take any notice. Instead, it powered along.

One of the early signs that should have registered with the Government is the fact that when the representatives of the company left Honiara earlier this year, their hotel bills were left unpaid.

Whether that critical piece of information was relayed directly to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare by those backing the company’s promotional drive here at the time, is not clear.

It is now clear that the government took little or no notice at all, if indeed the information was passed on.

Now, a disgruntled Chinese investor has revealed that he was one of 50, 000 investors whose money had been allegedly squandered by Mr Jason Liu Tao and his henchmen.

Some three (3) billion RMB (about SBD10 billion) were fleeced off unsuspecting Chinese investors who were told their money was being invested in infrastructure development, tourism and so in the Pacific, largely in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

But there was none to show for in these countries.

In Solomon Islands, the consortium of billionaires were going to lend the Government up to SBD300 million, which the administration would use to buy a piece of land for the construction of some 5, 000 executive houses for senior public servants.

At one point a senior government minister’s land was under serious consideration for the purchase, reportedly at around F$75 million (about SBD218 million). It was just as well the signing of a proposed MOU on the matter did not take place.

It is not clear what interest rate is being charged by the consortium of billionaires on their proposed loan to the government.

It was going to be a very expensive exercise indeed. But thank goodness the scam was exposed before it was too late.

In that respect, the media revelation of the scam was a blessing in disguise.

I can only point to the daily morning devotion at the Office of the Prime Minister as a shield, providing protection for the Hon Prime Minister and his government. It is the only thing I’ve missed since I was unfairly dismissed two weeks ago.

Let me close with this daily devotion in my mobile for Thursday 27th August 2015.

In Isaiah 26:3 the King James version says: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusted in thee.”

By Alfred Sasako