MA Li Ping, if that is her real name, exudes power and influence in sections in government and commerce and business in Honiara. She wields so much power and influence that those who move in her circle believe and respect her – never mind what others might say.
On the surface her side of the story matters.
In a way, this young woman or at least her actions suggest she represents stuff Hollywood movies are made of. Members of her cast – exercise power and influence in their own sphere of responsibilities. It would seem they are carefully selected to help play their roles.
Cast members consist of individuals with powerful political connections, high ranking police officers, offshore armed soldiers and a group of individuals who participated in activities clearly outside their role.
Solomon Star has revealed that Ms. Ma is suspected of running a money-laundering operations. She travels on two Chinese passports – one expires in 2025 and the other is due to run out in 2032.
Ms. Ma allegedly obtained six Solomon Islands Driver’s Licences for six Chinese nationals including her own. While she lives in Honiara, the other five do not – a question mark on those who issued the drivers Licences in the first place.
The Licences are used as ID or proof for sending money overseas. Solomon Star has obtained copies of the Licences.
Since then, it has now emerged that she either has access to or controls foreign passports issued in the name of up to 30 Chinese nationals who may or may not know their passports are being used to transfer or perhaps laundered up to $300, 000 a day from Western Union and Money gram outlets in Honiara. These transfers were sent in multiples of $10, 000 per transactions
Documents and physical actions show Ms. Ma’s business circle has links to Police, Labour, Immigration and even to the Papua New Guinea troops serving in Honiara under the security arrangement to protect Solomon Islands citizens living in Honiara.
Banks and at least one social group are also in her circle.
On Thursday 2nd June – a day before the Queen’s Birthday holiday – for example 14 armed PNG troops, seven senior detectives from the CID and four members of the “Tuita” group raided the private residence of Mr. Suresh at Panatina.
They had no search warrant to enter the premises. With guns at the ready, the soldiers smashed their way into Mr. Suresh’s bedroom, using the butts of their military rifles to break open the door,” eyewitnesses told Solomon Star.
Threats of shoot-to-kill were allegedly made against Suresh and his workers who were at the house at around 11am that Thursday. One worker was arrested and handcuffed by CID officers who even denied giving the employee water while.in custody.
Ma holds 10 per cent shares in a holding company called LCSM Enterprises Ltd which also operates subsidiaries such as LCSM Automobile, LC Fitness Center and LCSM Entertainment. Her one-time live-in lover, Chandana Suresh Gunatihilaka Karunapedige, a Sri Lankan national, owns 90 per cent.
She has allegedly padlocked all the offices in the Lunga area, according to Suresh.
“I know they had come to kill me on someone’s order. I also know it was Ma who directed the group to enter my private residence. The PNG troops, using rifles butts, smashed the door to my bedroom and ransacked my wardrobes. Some $243, 000 in cash wrapped in plastic bags was missing.
“For some reason the room next to my bedroom was not ransacked although the door was broken. That room was my office,” Suresh said.
“I told the lady before we went our separate ways that we should keep business away fron our private lives. Now she has turned against me, creating claims I had threatened to shoot her with a gun. The claim was so far-fetched that even the High Court has thrown out that case,” Suresh said.
Now Ms. Ma had obtained approval to freeze their joint overdraft Account – LCSM Enterprises – at POB.
“Can you imagine a minority shareholder obtaining such approval. The letter did not even have a date on it, not even the company letterhead. Why POB never checked with me before freezing the Overdraft Account is beyond me,” he said.
But that’s not all.
Mr. Suresh got a similar shock from the Senior Immigration Officer, Arnold Horesi, of the Immigration Division of the Ministry of Commerce. Mr. Horesi issued a “Notification of Stop Departure” to Mr. Suresh.
Solomon Star has obtained a copy of the letter, Ref IMM1914/16. It was dated 26th May 2022 and copied to several people including Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau.
In normal circumstances such a letter would have been based on a High Court ruling. Here it is not the case. So who authorised Mr. Horesi to issue such a letter?
Or take the case of a meeting between Mr. Suresh and the Commissioner of Labour who allegedly told Mr. Suresh in the face, “you are a guest in this country, so don’t be smart.”
“Sir, I understand all that but as a human being I also have some rights. Furthermore, I am an investor. I pay my tax to the government.”
We produce below a specimen of the foreign passports Ms. Ma allegedly has access to or controls to transfer funds overseas.
By Alfred Sasako