Gov’t can’t afford to let a ‘golden chance’ slip off

Gov’t can’t afford to let a ‘golden chance’ slip off


The Government for National Unity and Transformation (GNUT) can’t afford to let a ‘golden chance’ slip off, when it embarks on rebuilding the national economy – beginning with a massive investment of a SB$140 million ‘buy-back’ scheme to regain Lever Solomon Limited (LSL) and Russell Islands Plantation Estate Limited (RIPEL) prime estates on Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands.

The estates host some of the suitable agriculture lands in the country that has the potential to trigger growth in the national economy once redeveloped.

Regardless of gross misinformation and speculations surrounding the scheme on social media, the government is steadfast in pursuing the matter and will not be swayed by any misinformation.

The new Cabinet approved the buy-back scheme and is securing funds through approval of a special Bond market of $140 million for investors to buy.

In his announcement on Monday, Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele said the Cabinet approved the sale of $140 million dollars in Bond to raise the funds needed to secure this buy-back through the liquidators, HALLCHADWICK of Australia.

Prime Minister Hon. Jeremiah Manele during a Press conference on Monday.

Once funds are transferred and the settlement is completed, some work will need to be done to clean up all the paperwork including titles of pieces of land already sold before handing back the ownership of LSL and RIPEL Estates to the government.

LSL currently holds Fixed Term Estate land titles over 781 land parcels across more than 1,900 hectares in Guadalcanal Province, and Fixed Term Estates over 18 land parcels across 6,629 hectares in the Russell Islands in Central Islands Province.

The Fixed Term Estates generally run for a period of 75 years dating back to independence, having been automatically converted from freehold title at that time by legislation. Fixed Term Estates are a type of lease, and the overall owner of the freehold title (“Perpetual Estates”) is the Commissioner of Lands on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government.

LSL is owned by International Comtrade & Shipping (SI) Ltd (ICSL) – 75.1% and Lavukal Investment Company Limited – 24.9%. ICSL is owned equally by Mr. Willem Van Vlymen (Vlymen) and Mr. Patrick Wong (Wong) through their companies Pacific Investment Limited (PIL) and Overseas Shipping Trading and Investment Ltd., (OSTI), respectively. Vlymen and Wong jointly own several other entities on a 50:50 basis.

Due to various issues, Vlymen and Wong decided to part ways in late 2012, and entered into a Settlement Agreement in November 2014 which was eventually executed in 2016, that Vlymen, buy Wong’s interests out for a total of US$2.0 million and SBD $15 million. (Approximately SBD $32 Million in total).

On completion of these payments, Wong and his controlled entities must: (i) transfer all shares in OSTI, and (ii) relinquish all directorships of the Wong entities, and the Jointly Controlled Entities, including RIPEL and LSL. Vlymen was not able to meet the payments and Wong sued for specific performance, which the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled in the Mr Wong’s favor.

This dispute eventually led to the Vlymen entities being placed in Receivership, granting an opening for the SIG to acquire the estates held by LSL since Independence.

The Cabinet of Solomon Islands had previously approved a process to take back all of LSL’s land titles in Guadalcanal Province. This was actioned through a combination of compulsory acquisitions and forfeiture of Fixed Term Estates. However, LSL has appealed all these actions in the High Court, and these cases are still before the court. Based on the status of these cases no real resolution is expected in the medium term.

In July 2021, discussions commenced with the Solomon Islands Government who had expressed an interest in providing a DOCA. After several Court approved extensions, the second creditors meeting was held on 17 June 2022 at which time unsecured creditors voted unanimously in favor of the proposed (draft) SIG DOCA.; with Mr Wong voting against. The proposed DOCA at the time was AU$15,669,225.62. The latest DOCA presented to the SI is now AU$24,340,875.00.

The Solomon Islands Government (SIG) reiterates its intention is to gain control of land titles in Solomon Islands currently held by Levers Solomons Limited (LSL), by acquiring majority ownership of LSL in the best possible method that avoids potential litigation or any other unintended adverse consequences, and at the lowest cost to the Government.


– Government Communication Unit

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