Costly Gov’t choice
Government could resume Hell’s Point without much money
THE Government could have taken Hell’s Point land back at minimal costs, using last year’s amendment to the Lands and Titles Act, legal sources have revealed.
Under the amendment, the Commissioner of Lands has the power to resume the Hell’s Point land, east of Honiara as well as the entire RIPEL estates throughout the nation.
“All the government has to do is to make an offer to buy back the land together with a reasonable compensation, not the $50 million it was frantically trying to get from SIPA and others,” the legal sources said.
“The $50 million is way, way out, considering the state or condition of the Hell’s Point estate. It is obvious the demand for $50 million is being pushed by individuals with vested interests.
“And part of the problem is that the government is not listening to legal advice on the matter,” one source said.
The revelation on the Hell’s Point land comes as an administrator has been appointed to oversee liquidation arrangements of assets owned by Dutchman Van Vlymen, one of the key players in the initial takeover of RIPEL.
The liquidation is expected to also affect the Hell’s Point land as well as RIPEL land in Solomon Islands, a situation which could favor the Government.
In the New South Wales Supreme Court last year, the Court heard Mr Vlymen owns, jointly with his wife, properties at Bayview and Kulnura.
According to statements Mr Vlymen has made to prospective lenders those properties have a combined value in the order of between AUD$4.7 million and AUD$5.4 million and are subject to a mortgage in the order of AUD$2.6 million.
Mr Vlymen also owns a rural property at Lanitza which has been approved for subdivision. The value of the property is said to be between AUD$1 million and AUD$1.2 million, subject to a mortgage securing an amount in the order of AUD$163,000.
The substantive terms of the settlement agreement between Mr Vlymen and his one-time RIPEL chairman, Patrick Wong, it was agreed that the Van Vlymen entities:
(a) are to pay to the Wong Entities a non-refundable deposit of USD250,000;
As soon as possible thereafter, but in any event within 120 days of execution of the Settlement Agreement, on a date to be agreed (Completion):
(a) the VV Entities are to pay to the Wong Entities (as directed by them) a further USD1.75 million;
(b) the VV Entities are to pay to the Wong Entities (as directed by them) a further
Sum of [SBD15 million]…and
(c) the Wong Entities are to transfer their entire interests (including indirect interests)
in the JV and any business relationship between them, unencumbered, and
relinquish all directorships…”.
Amongst other things, the Settlement Agreement identifies the various “Wong Entities” and “Van Vlymen Entities” and provides that the sale of the Wong Entities’ interest in the Joint Venture is to be effected by a transfer by Mr Wong of his shareholding in OSTI to one or other of the Van Vlymen Entities.