Land valuer’s jail term suspended

The Waigani National Court has suspended a jail term sentence which was imposed on the principal of a land valuation company in Port Moresby.

Mariano Edward Lakae of Apanaipi village, Bereina, Central province, who conspired with two others to defraud the National Provident Fund some 18 years ago, was sentenced to six years in prison. However, the court wholly suspended that jail term because the accused has since aged and the case had dragged on for too long.

The court was of the view that Lakae’s case took too long to come to finality and he suffered enough.

He was convicted in November 2016 by the Waigani National Court for conspiring with Jimmy Maladina and Herman Joseph Leahy to defraud the then NPF and misappropriate a total of K235,000 between 1998 and 1999.

He was convicted on evidence he met with Maladina to discuss his engagement to provide valuation service and that he would share his fees with Maladina.

Lakae was the principal of Mariano Lakae and Associates Valuers, and 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 in 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 city, 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.

Both land portions’ valuation was done in agreement with Maladina and Joseph Leahy after he met with Maladina at a social club in Konebobu 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 was 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 in 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