By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE National Court has overturned the decision of the Lands Board and the Lands Department to give a prime land in Kimbe, West New Britain to a foreign company.
The court found that there was fraud involved in the awarding of the land, lot 3 section 31, to Qunqing Trading Limited.
Justice David Cannings said the lease was based on an unlawful exemption, initially, by Lands secretary Pepi Kimas.
In the case, the WNB provincial government took Mr Kimas, former Lands Board chairman Francis Tanga, the State and Qunqing to court to block the lease.
In his decision on Dec 30, Justice Cannings said: “The secretary’s decision of Nov 26, 2004, to exempt the land from advertisement had no proper legal basis. It was irregular and unlawful. That erroneous decision infected every subsequent decision made under the Land Act and the Land Registration Act concerning the land.
“Including, especially, the decision to grant a State Lease to Qunqing Trading Ltd and the decision to register the Lease.”
He also said the “circumstances in which it was registered are as unsatisfactory, dubious and irregular as to be tantamount to fraud.”
He added: “Actual fraud has not been proven but I am satisfied that there is constructive fraud. Therefore it is a “case of fraud” for the purposes of Section 33(1)(a) of the Land Registration Act.
“It follows that the granting and registration of the Lease is ineffective at law and should not be allowed to stand.”
The matter arose when on Dec 14, 2006, Mr Kimas granted a 99-year State lease over the land to Qunqing Trading Ltd, for business/commercial purposes. West New Britain provincial government challenged this, said proper procedures were not followed, and that the land was zoned for public institutional, not business or commercial, purposes, that fraud was involved, that it was not consulted and that preferential treatment was given to a foreign company.
The piece of land in question (lot 3, Sect 31) was half a hectare in area and located adjacent to the provincial government headquarters, across the road from the town