Miner caught trying to deceive Customs in the Solomon Islands

Solomon Star via PNG Today

Fake PermitsINDONESIAN firm Bintang Borneo Limited has been caught attempting to deceive Customs  in Solomon Islands with a fake export and consignment permit, the Solomon Star reports.

The move was the latest attempt by the company to export bauxite it illegally extracted on Rennell island, Renbel Province, since last year.

But the fake permit, issued on 27 April 2015, was quickly brought to the attention of Director of Mines Peter Augu, who immediately alerted Customs about its fraudulent nature.

“My office has cited a consignment permit purportedly issued to PT Mega Bintang Borneo Limited dated Wednesday 27 April 2015, claiming to have been signed and issued by me,” Mr Auga said in a letter written to the Comptroller of Customs.

“I as director of mines do hereby categorically deny that I have never at any time affix my signature on any such purported consignment permit to PT Mega Bintang Borneo Limited,” he added.

It was not clear who was behind the fraudulent attempt.

The form carried the stamp of the Ministry of Miners, Energy & Rural Electrification and was signed by someone purported to be the director.

However, the signature was clearly different from that of Mr Augu.

Attempts to speak to the general manager of Bintang Borneo, Setya Graha, were not possible as he was not answering his mobile phone.

Mr Auga stated in his letter to Customs that there was no meeting convene by the Mines and Minerals Board to decide and approve a consignment permit for Bintang.

“If for any reason that the purported consignment permit was claimed to have been signed and issued by my office, then of course, that is clearly forging of my signature and fraudulent affixing the stamp of the ministry without my due approval as director.

“I therefore firmly confirm that my letter of 10 April 2015 on the subject ‘Re: No Board Approval for the granting of Temporary Export Permit to PT Mega Bintang Borneo Limite’ still remain on foot,” Mr Auga said.

Bintang got its mining lease for Rennell island on 9 September 2014 from the last government.

But when the Sogavare government assumed power in December last year, it revoked Bintang’s mining lease on the basis the lease was granted by the former minister without the Mineral Board’s decision.

Despite orders for the Indonesia company to pack up and leave Rennell island where it was doing exploration, it never did.

The Solomon Star was reliably informed Bintang flown in about 10 Indonesian stevedores into the country Monday this week in anticipation of its expected bauxite shipment from Rennell.

An overseas vessel, MV Chang Hang Jin Hai, arrived in Honiara yesterday afternoon at the behest of Bintang to load its purported consignment of bauxite on Rennell.

However, a Customs official said the vessel will not be allowed to travel to Rennell because Bintang does not have a consignment permit to export bauxite.

Meanwhile, sources within the Ministry of Mines said the minister is in a process of issuing a “final revocation” letter to Bintang.

“A final revocation letter means the Indonesian company will no longer be given the chance to appeal the minister’s letter,” one source said.

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Filed under Corruption, Financial returns, Solomon Islands

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