FRANK SENGE KOLMA
THE State is liable to pay more than K45 million if the Court finds that the Public Curator has failed to properly manage and execute the estate of a dead person.
Konze Kara, the surviving younger brother of the late lawyer Kibikang Yakka Kara, was claiming that negligence by the Public Curator to manage the estate had resulted in loss of income, in much of the property being sold off or returned to the commercial banks after the properties fell into arrears, in loss through fire, as well as breach of statutory and fiduciary duties and obligations.
Mr Kibikang Kara died in September 1991 and it fell, as these matters normally were, to the Public Curator to administer and execute the deceased’s estate.
On Dec 13, 2006, Mr Konze Kara succeeded the Public Curator as the administrator of the estate.
After an examination of the affairs of the Estate, Mr Kara concluded that the estate had suffered significant loss through negligence and mismanagement and filed a legal suit against the Public Curator in April this year.
Mr Kara was claiming that between 1991 and 2006, the Public Curator had, through negligence and mismanagement, allowed the Estate to sustain economic loss and/or damages estimated at K45,680,060 plus interest as at December 2007.
It was alleged that failure to meet mortgage commitments of the estate resulted in the former PNG Banking Corporation issuing a notice of default for the sum of K134,825.21 in 1992 and thereafter reclaiming a property called the Mt Diamond Farm.
Similar action taken by the ANZ Bank in respect of K3,005,837.86 in March 1994 removed from the estate substantial number of properties, namely:
* 14 x 3-bedroom units in NCD called the
Lahara Court Units;
* 5 x 3-bedroom houses in NCD called the Korobosea Houses;
* 4 x 3-bedroom houses in Madang called the Madang Units;
* 1 x 5-bedroom house at Ranu Place, NCD;
* 1 x 4-bedroom house at Angau Drive, NCD; and
* A coffee plantation at Portion 1081C in Mt Hagen called the Kumul Coffee Plantation.
It was further alleged that the Public Curator also failed to manage the remainder of the real estate properties owned by the estate.
Two uninsured properties, a seven-bedroom house at Morea Tobo Road and a five-bedroom House at Kittyhawk Street in NCD were destroyed by fire in 1992 and 1998 respectively.
The Plaintiff alleged also that the Public Curator failed to lodge any annual tax returns for the estate with the Internal Revenue Commission; to prepare and lodged any annual returns with the Registrar of Companies; and pay annual State rent when due for and on behalf of the Estate.
In addition the Public Curator was alleged to have:
* Wrongfully applied a sum exceeding K41,000, the property of another deceased estate or trust fund which it administered in payment of a judgment debt and costs obtained against the Estate and then wrongfully applied that sum as a debt owing by the Kibikang Kara Estate;
* Failed to implement and maintained proper accounting records for the estate;
* Negligently or in breach of his general law duties and his fiduciary duties and his statutory duties failed to take any timely or effective steps to realise the assets for the estate and carry out its proper administration and distribution; and
* Failed to transmit an account of all monies received and paid to the Secretary of Finance and to keep proper accounts of the Estate.