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Mae questioned over sale of RIPEL shares

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Premier Mae (L) executive reportedly had sold 200 shares held by the Central Islands Development Authority, the province’s commercial arm to Mr Wong (R).
THE Malaita Ma’asina Forum is calling on the Central Islands Provincial Premier, Patteson Mae to clearly explain the relationship between his administration and the prohibited managing director of Russell Islands Plantation Estates Limited (RIPEL), Patrick Wong.

Forum President Charles Dausabea said the call follows revelation that Premier Mae executive reportedly had sold 200 shares held by the Central Islands Development Authority, the province’s commercial arm to Mr Wong.

The sale reportedly valued at $500,000 was made on 26 October 2012.

Mr Dausabea said some of Mr Mae’s executive members had confirmed the money had been paid into the Central Islands Development Authority’s bank account, but they had denied the Executive had discussed the sale of the shares.

He said the MMF cannot understand why the Central Islands Provincial Executive had decided to sell the shares to Mr Wong who had been unable to have RIPEL to sustain operations for almost 10 years.

And Mr Dausabea added Mr Wong holds the minority shares in the company.

He said the Forum wants to see RIPEL resumes operations because many Malaitans have been engaged by RIPEL and other investors before it.

Mr Dausabea said the Malaitans and workers from other provinces continue to wait anxiously for the time RIPEL will return to operations.

Documents obtained from government authorities revealed the shareholders of RIPEL are Central Islands Development Authority holding 200 shares, International Comtrade & Shipping (SI) Ltd 151 shares, Lavukal Investment Company Ltd, holding 249 shares and Nationwide Limited 200 shares.

The Central Islands Development Authority is the commercial arm of the Central Islands Provincial Government which has already sold its 200 shares to Mr Wong who owns International Comtrade & Shipping (SI) Ltd, Lavukal Investment Company Ltd is owned by the indigenous people of Russell Islands while Nationwide Limited represents members of the National Union of Workers engaged by RIPEL

The documents show with the sale of the Central Islands Development Authority 200 shares to Shipping (SI) Ltd on 26 October last year, means Mr Wong has become the major shareholder in RIPEL with 351 shares.

Lavukal and Nationwide maintain their shares of 249 and 200 respectively.

RIPEL has eight directors who have been keeping an eye on how it has been operating.

They are Kay LittleJOHN (Aust) Patteson Mae (CIP), David Tuhanuku (Nationwide/Union), Peter URI (Lavukal), Willem Johan Van VLYMEN (Aust), Marian Sarah WONG (Aust) and Patrick Shung WONG (Aust).