THE Government has gone ahead to sell logs felled illegally by Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) at its controversial operation in west Rennell.
The action follows a seizure notice the Ministry of Forestry and Research served on APID on 24 September 2015, threatening confiscations by the Crown of more than 25,000 cubic metres of round logs, machineries, and equipment owned by the company.
The round logs are said to be lying at Neone log pond in West Rennell Island.
The Ministry of Forestry is selling the logs through tender, which is published in the newspaper today.
APID however, claimed it had already transferred ownership of the round logs to local landowners, Solomon Maui and Naone landowning groups on 21st of September 2015.
Acting on legal advice by the Attorney General, the Ministry of Forestry invited interested buyers to purchase the round logs despite APID’s claims it had transferred ownership of the logs to customary landowners.
The ministry said the move was made on the basis APID was operating business illegally in west Rennell.
It said while APID was masquerading itself as a mining company, it had engaged in logging activities contrary to its legal licence.
Meanwhile, APID’s media consultant, Takika Tua’ata had maintained APID no longer owns the round logs as they have transferred ownership to the landowners.
Mr Tua’ata said the transfer arrangement to tribal landowner Solomon Maui and Naone land owning tribal group was made on September 21st this year.
But the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry, Vaeno Vingulu said government will go ahead with its legal tender notice for the sale of the round logs to potential bidders.
He said proceeds from the sale will be kept in a trust account with the Central Bank of Solomon Islands until legal ownership of the round logs are established by the courts.
He pointed out that those aggrieved by the Government’s decision still have the right to challenge the action through the legal process.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI