Gov’t urged to cut ties with investor
THE Joint Civil Society Groups & Concerned Citizens (JCSG & CC) is calling on Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and responsible government authorities to immediately terminate all contracts involving Evita Solomon Limited and urgently declare its Executives persona-non-grata in Solomon Islands.
The call comes in the light of recent reports in the international media regarding the involvement of John Davis (an Australian citizen), who is also the Chairman of Evita Solomon Limited company board, in a massive fraud case in Phnom Penh in 2008.
In July 2011 the Phnom Penh Post reported that Mr Davis and his associate Lim Liam Tho were embroiled in a massive lawsuit initiated by a subsidiary of the Hong Kong based firm Enviro Group Holding Limited for allegedly defrauding a foreign investor of millions of dollars during their tenure as directors of the firm.
The media report went on to say that 30,000 hectares of land granted to Enviro Group Holding Ltd in various provinces in Vietnam for seaweed and bio-diesel projects had to be postponed in 2008 soon after the fraud involving Mr Davis went before the courts in Phnom Penh.
The Interim Chairman of JCSG & CC and Acting CEO of ANSI Barnabas Henson said:
“These are very serious fraud allegations but it appears that the government is practically fraternising with these individuals,” Mr Henson said.
He said Evita Solomons first entered the country under the direction of Mr Davis with a string of embellished investment plans for agriculture, minerals and land development sectors.
The company’s commencement plan was for agro-development in East Fataleka, opting to expand to Kolombangara, and to the Russell Islands.
The company then announced that it was going to initially invest millions of dollars by purchasing the Tandai Motel and the Kukum Kingdom Hall establishment to house its Solomon Islands operations.
But Mr Henson said nothing concrete has progressed on any of those fronts to date.
Documents have recently surfaced in public showing that Evita was the designated developer for the Auluta Basin Oil Palm development project.
PM Lilo has also been urging a number of ministries to work closely with the company according to the documents.
“One needs only a closer look at the company to realize it has absolutely no corporate credibility to validate it operating in Solomon Islands,” Mr Henson said.
“Thus the government support it has been accorded is highly questionable.
“A 100% duty exemption granted to Evita on machinery has preceded any tangible progress on development work in East Fataleka.
“Evita has not established a corporate office and is still operating out of a tourist motel.
“It would seem that Evita is more interested in the volume of logs in East Fataleka than in plantation development as promised to the government and landowners.
“How foolish do we need to get before the dangers the country is being exposed to are realized?” Mr Henson asked.
He warned landowners in East Fataleka, Auluta Basin, and elsewhere in the Solomon Islands that “it is quite possible Evita will grab your land and turn them into shares it can sell to other foreign investors. This involves quite a complex set of fake business stock arrangements which according to the Phnom Penh Post, has been achieved by Mr Davis in allegedly defrauding another foreign investor of millions of dollars in 2008.
“It is fraudulent and corrupt and will likely destroy you and your land resources. Take heed.”
Mr Henson said the country does not need to fall prey to the guiles of such questionable foreign investors.
“This is detrimental for foreign investment in the country. We need to foster and maintain a credible investment portfolio by taking hard-line actions against dubious investors in order to discourage bad investments and encourage good investment partnerships with credible foreign companies.
“The future of this nation lies in our hands, not them.
“We must ensure that this country is protected against fraudulent investments at all costs.
“NCRA must get Evita out of this country and ensure none of them return – ever.
“If this government cannot see to it, we are certain that the next one will.”
Comments are being sought from Mr Davis and his Evita office in Honiara.