INDIGENOUS victims of AIPF SI Ltd’s consultancy dealings will meet the Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) this morning, sources told Solomon Star last night.
Many will be there to express their disappointment that the CBSI, has failed to protect local businesses from business practices engaged by AIPF SI Ltd, a consultancy firm which operates as a loan broker for indigenous clients with Bank South Pacific.
“We’ve alerted the CBSI last year about what was going on, but they have not taken any action – none at all – until our businesses have been reduced to nothing with huge loans to repay,” one angry business owner told Solomon Star.
“We’ve written to everybody – from the Police to the banks, but it seems no one was interested until the whole matter had blown up in the open.”
AIPF SI Ltd is a foreign investor company, owned by Rwandan national Deogratias Harorimana, who also holds dual citizenship in Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. A Solomon Islands national by the name of Salome Kwaiga, jointly runs the company with the man known to his friends as Dr Deo.
According to published information, Dr. Deo’s company charges as much as 10 per cent of the value of each loan, which ranges in amounts from $2 million to $26 million.
Almost all indigenous companies are now struggling to repay huge loans negotiated on their behalf by Dr. Deo. Many are calling for investigations into whether his business activities were allowed in the terms of his work permit.
Prominent amongst his victims are a security firm owned by a local man, whose company assets are in danger of being seized for sale so he could pay his brokerage fee to AIPF SI Ltd. This is because he refused to accept the $25 million loan after BSP had approved the loan.
The other is an established business concern. Its title had been “stolen” by AIPF SI Ltd. The company has advised commercial banks against accepting the title as collateral for a loan by AIPF SI Ltd.
“The company is happy some banks have responded positively by refusing to accept any loan application by AIPF SI Ltd,” the sources said.
Meanwhile, Solomon Star has established that Dr Deo and his partner are renting a five bedroom executive residence overlooking the former Our Telekom’s Sports field at Ranqdi.
The house, owned by former Solomon Airlines pilot turned-businessman, Wilson Wilikai, is said to have been bought by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Solomon Star could not independently confirm the purchase, except it was given one of two prices at which the building was sold.
“Yes, he (Prime Minister Sogavare) bought the house for $15 million. The deal was done earlier this year,” one informer told Solomon Star.
Neighbours said they were aware of the building being sold to Mr. Sogavare at $11 million.
“Yes, we have heard about the purchase, although we never saw Mr. Sogavare or his people around here.”
Solomon Star visited the property around midday yesterday, but attempts to speak to someone in the house were unsuccessful.
Solomon Star also spoke to the Premiere Group of Companies Real Estate, which was reported to be the agent for the sale, but a spokeswoman for the company said it knew nothing of the sale.
“You have to speak to Mr. Wilikai,” she said. Attempts to contact Mr. Wilikai were also unsuccessful.
If the report of the purchase is true, this property would be the sixth in Mr. Sogavare’s personal property portfolio.
By Alfred Sasako