Valuer guilty of accelerating land value

The principal of a land valuation company in Port Moresby has been found guilty for conspiring with two others to defraud then National Provident Fund and misappropriate more than K200,000.

Mariano Edward Lakae of Apanaipi village, Bereina, Central province, was convicted by the Waigani National Court for conspiring with Jimmy Maladina and Herman Joseph Leahy. They plotted to defraud the then NPF and misappropriated a total of K235,000 between 1998 and 1999.

Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, in his decision, said there was evidence Lakae met with Maladina to discuss his engagement to provide valuation service and that he would share his fees with Maladina.

“To me with respect, this appeared to be a meeting of the minds to commit illegal acts. Therefore all the elements of the charge for conspiracy to defraud NPF and dishonestly applying the said amounts to his own use and the use of others are made out beyond reasonable doubt,” Sir Gibbs said.

Lakae was the principal of Mariano Lakae and Associates Valuers. His company’s service was engaged by Maladina in 1998 without the approval of the NPF board to do land valuation of two portions of land in Port Moresby.

He was tasked to do land valuation of Allotment 2, section 429, at Hohola between Oct 1 and Dec 31, 1998, of which he fraudulently charged NPF K60,000 for his services.  

Referred to as the ‘Waigani Land’, it was 99.8 hectares of prime underdeveloped land at the corner of the Waigani Drive, where Vision City now stands.

The second portion of land his services was engaged in was for Allotment 16, Section 5, Granville, Port Moresby, between Oct 1,1998 and Feb 1, 1999, where he charged NPF K185,000 land valuation fees.

This is referred to as the ‘NPF tower’ land, which is 0.3035 hectares, situated on Douglas Street, Port Moresby.

Both land portions’ valuation were done in agreement with Maladina and Leahy after he met with Maladina at a social club at Konedobu in early Oct 1998.

The court found that it was at this meet that Lakae and Maladina agreed that NPF would pay for his service. The quotations done for the service were fraudulently valued to be excessive.

It was also agreed that Maladina would be paid 50 percent of the valuation service fee from Lakae, as his commission for securing the contract.

On 8 Dec 1998, Lakae was paid K60,000 service fee and soon after, K30, 000 was paid to Maladina at Carter Newell Lawyers for his role in securing the job. This was for the land described as Allotment 2, section 429 at Hohola.

On Oct 19, 1998, Leahy, who was the corporate secretary to NPF, wrote to Lakae requiring his service to value land described as Allotment 16, Section 5, Granville, Port Moresby city.

NPF paid Lakae K175,000, out of which 50 percent, in the amount of K87,000, was paid to Maladina for securing the job for Lakae.

Sally Pokiton