Foreign green gold hunters and Wagner’s dictator singing false notes for Aunty Nur Bano Ali’s client Sustainable Mahogany Industries Limited under nephew’s Mahogany Decree
By Victor Lal
We may recall that the dictator Frank Bainimarama recently told the Fiji Institute of Accountants that his illegal and un-elected government has awarded the first of many licenses to SMI – Sustainable Mahogany Industries Ltd. SMI has been given the right to buy mahogany from Fiji Mahogany Ltd. According to Bainimarama, “This is the first time that a licence has been issued to gain the right to purchase Fijian mahogany. It is the first time that a licensee will pay a separate levy for reforestation”.
The Congress of Accountants also heard that SMI would pay a licence fee of $70 for every cubic metre of mahogany logs bought from Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited. This is expected to result in $14 million paid as licence fees over 5 years in addition to the price of the logs. A separate and additional reforestation fee of $25 per cubic metre of logs will also be payable.
What Bainimarama did not disclose are the following: Who owns SMI? When was the public tender advertised? Who approved SMI? Who is SMI’s accountant?
Dictator chairman of Fiji Mahogany Council under Khaiyum’s illegal Mahogany Development Decree 2010
Let us be reminded that the dictator is not only Fiji’s illegal treasonist Prime Minister but he is also the chairman of the Fiji Mahogany Council under the Mahogany Industry Development Decree 2010, a decree drafted by fellow treasonist Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.
In introducing the Mahogany Decree, Khaiyum in his capacity as Minister for Public Enterprises, Industry and Trade claimed that the Decree “has introduced a transparent, efficient and results-oriented regime to develop a mahogany industry. It will leapfrog reforms and contribute to growing the GDP”. Khaiyum also disclosed that expressions of interest were called for the issuance of licences in the mahogany industry.
The SMI beginning: Anareta Narawa and Christine Mitchell – First Directors
On 25 January 2010 Sustainable Mahogany Industries Ltd was duly incorporated under the Companies Act (CO NO RCBS2010L0271). Earlier, on 14 January, the acting Registrar of Companies was notified as follows: “Sustainable Mahogany Industries Limited hereby gives you notice. In accordance with Section 110 of the Companies Act, that the registered office of the company is situated at c/- aliz pacific, Level 8, Dominion House, Thomson St, Suva, P. O. Box 2475, Government Buildings, Suva.”
Aliz Pacific, as we are so familiar since the treasonous 2006 coup, is owned by Khaiyum’s aunty, Nur Bano Ali, who describes herself as managing director of the company, “one of the largest local professional services firms in Fiji, specializing in providing expert business and accounting advice and innovation in business through growth strategy”. She is also the President of the Suva Chamber of Commerce & Industry and President of Women in Business. And her office is as stated above in her application on behalf of SMI.
What she has not advertised, and understandably so, is that she is the illegal pay-mistress to Bainimarama’s Cabinet ministers. Her accountancy firm is also currently providing advice to SMI for Joint Venture set up and corporate group restructure.
The first directors of SM1, as listed in the company files from 14 January 2010 were Anareta Narawa and Christine Mitchell, both Fiji citizens, who gave Nur Bano’s office address as their postal address. Narawa was listed as secretary to the SMI. And in pursuance of the Memorandum of Association, they declared that the two were agreeing to take one share each in the capital of SMI. Accountant Nitesh Kumar, who also gave Nur Bano’s office address as his address, witnessed their signatures.
On 20 January 2010 Narawa while fulfilling other obligations under the Companies Act, declared that the objects of the Company, among other things, is “to carry on the trade or business of timber merchants, building contractors, saw milers and forestry”. The liability of the members was limited, and the share capital of SMI was two million dollars divided into 2million shares at $1each. Suva lawyer Peniana Mailoa Salele, presently representing deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase in cases brought against him by FICAC witnessed the declaration.
But on 4 March 2010 Christine Mitchell resigned as director, and a sportswoman Alison Southey replaced her, with Narawa still acting both as director and secretary of SMI. Southey also gave Nur Bano’s office address as her correspondence address.
Foreign Green Gold Hunters takeover SMI under Mahogany Decree
A day before Mitchell resigned and Southey was appointed, the illegal A-G Khaiyum, on 3 March 2010, suddenly announced that the Cabinet had approved the promulgation of the Mahogany Industry Development Decree 2010, based on his submission. He once again chanted his now familiar mantra: “The Decree seeks to implement a transparent, efficient and result-oriented regime, which will ensure that the mahogany industry is further and better developed, having regard to the interests of all stakeholders, including the landowners, in order to ensure that the mahogany industry is able to provide suitable and sustainable returns for the betterment of the economy and the people of Fiji and creating a distinct brand of Fijian Mahogany.”
Donlon, White and Wagner arrive at SMI
Following the promulgation of the Mahogany Decree, Narawa and Southey resigned as directors on 13 April 2010 but Southey was retained as SMI secretary. On the same day American John Whitney Wagner, Peter Kevin White, New Zealander and Christopher James Donlon, an Australian, became SMI directors. They listed their postal addresses as P O Box 2475 Government Buildings, Suva, i. e. Khaiyum’s auntie’s accountancy firm.
Curiously, although SMI company files state that the three were appointed on 13 April, the CEO for Fiji Islands Trade & Investment Bureau, Annie Rogers, issued a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) number 10-0045 on 7 April, as she informed Nur Bano Ali in a letter issued on that day: “Dear Madam – Re Sustainable Mahogany Industries Ltd – I attach herewith….issued under the provisions of the Foreign Investment Act 1999 and the Foreign Investment (Amendment) Act 2004 to your client, Sustainable Mahogany Industries Ltd to process and manufacture timber products.” Rogers also pointed out to Nur Bano: “The foreign investor must have at least $250,000 in paid up capital in the form of cash from the operational; date, to be fully brought into Fiji within the 12 months implementation period. In addition, the foreign investor must not engage in any other business activities not specified in this certificate.”
Annie Rogers noted the following, as she notified Nur Bano: “Sustainable Mahogany Industries (Fiji), shareholder, 99.9%, Christopher Donlon, shareholder, 0.1%, Peter White, director and John Wagner, director.”
Multi-million dollar profit forecast before registration of SMI?
Looking at SMI company files, Peter White was appointed company director on 13 April 2010, and Articles of Association was submitted to the Registrar of Companies in January 2010, and yet, in December 2009, the Fiji Sun was informing its readers under the headline:“$30M FROM NEW MAHOGANY DEAL”:
“Fiji is going to pocket more than $30million of revenue per year from a new venture where products made from mahogany will be exported. This was revealed at the launch of the expansion of the Sustainable Mahogany Industries mill at Pacific Harbour in Deuba yesterday. Company Principal Officer, Peter White, said the initiative would be structured as a Fijian domiciled business for the purpose of creating revenue and employment to the people of Fiji. “Our intention is to build something Fiji can be proud of,” he said. “This venture we can guarantee will provide no risk guaranteed return to the people of Fiji, through log revenues and employment. All its worldwide income will [be] repatriated back into the country.”
“Mr White said they were currently producing parts for more than 4500 musical instruments per month and for this they were predominantly using mahogany. “We are looking at raking about $30m worth of revenue per year.” The first stage of this joint venture will cost around $15m and that is to set it up with a number of high skill value adding facilities planned for commencement for the next two years. The overseas investors are Sustainable Forest Industries, Wood Product International from New Zealand and Pacific Western Timbers from the United States. Pacific Western Timber is a manufacturing and engineering company based in Washington. It manufactures machinery parts and components for the aerospace industry like NASA and Boeing. World Product International has been marketing Fiji mahogany since 2004.”
The chief guest at the announcement was none other than Nur Bano’s nephew Khaiyum who told the gathering that the venture would also Fijians to develop their skills and expertise in the mahogany industry. “Government is very keen on developing the mahogany industry in a sustainable manner. There is no point in capitalising in the mahogany industry if it is not going to be profitable. Therefore we need a partnership with the private sector so that workers are up-skilled and there is employment. The value must also go to the landowners, it’s very important to us that Fiji benefits as a country,” Khaiyum added. According to SMI records, Peter Kevin White resigned as company director on 28 January 2011.
Who is Christopher James Donlon
He is an Australian who doesn’t come from a forestry background. We will let him introduce himself as he did so in October 2004 to Ross Duncan of the ABC Radio Australia on a documentary “Mahogany Dreaming”, with music from Black Rose serenading in the background.
Ross Duncan: “There’s another Australian doing a bit of mahogany business in Fiji. Forty-one-year-old, Chris Donlon, was happy to hook up and talk timber. A few days later when I called again, he was on his way to see his lawyer and he suggested we meet there to record an interview. His lawyer is Isireli Fa who I’d spoken to before about the legal actions between the landowners and the government. It was just another reminder of what a small town Suva is.”
Chris Donlon: “If we’re studying the history of Chris Donlon, probably easier if I deliver it. Christopher Donlon, born in Byron Bay in 1963, educated Mullumbimby High School, St Joseph’s College, University of Sydney, studying economics and law. Developed into the financial community, and I guess after the ’87 stockmarket crash, determined in my own mind that one should disinvest from financial instruments and into resource-based industries, whether that be in mining, forestry. I invested in the company called Red Anchor Resources Limited, I’d invested in a company or a group of companies which is actually the spearhead of investments in Fiji and the Solomons, called the Axiom Group, and Axiom Investments Limited, which then owned Pacific Timber Development Limited, which in turn owned Vusena Forest Corporation.
Ross Duncan: “I knew a little already about one of the companies Chris Donlon mentioned. In 1990 Red Anchor Resources raised $1.5-million to fund gold mining exploration in Papua New Guinea, and managed to spend or lose most of the money in a year. In 1996 Chris Donlon was fined a total of $13,500 for being knowingly concerned in Red Anchor financing the purchase of its own shares by another company, misusing his position as a director, and making false and misleading statements to auditors. His brush with Australia’s corporate watchdogs concerned Fiji’s Immigration authorities.”
Chris Donlon: It in fact created a problem for me where I was asked not to be in Fiji for a period of about six months while we worked through those issues. Whether that’s part of sour grapes in a reverse manner and people picking on you, or whether it’s the authorities applying an appropriate amount of discretion and audit, either way, yes, that certainly occurred and has affected my status here in the past; if indeed errors were made, then hopefully everyone does watch me.
Ross Duncan: “Chris Donlon acknowledges he’s been through some tough times, and he’s learned a lot. He has a slight limp and wears a trucker’s cap. He says he came to Fiji to recover money he had loaned to a local timber company. He now runs a company called Sustainable Forest Industries, or SFI. Its website says: SFI has received the concession harvesting rights for the Fijian Mahogany plantations from the Fijian Hardwood Corporation.”
Ross Duncan: “In fact, Sustainable Forest Industries has no rights to harvest Fiji’s mahogany. Chris Donlon says he didn’t personally write the website. His company does buy logs from Fiji Hardwood Corporation and processes them into sawn timber for export. It was Fiji Hardwood’s first customer. The two companies recently settled a dispute in relation to about $600,000 Fiji Hardwood claimed it was owed for log sales…”
Donlon’s Sustainable Forest Industries Nur Bano’s client
According to Nur Bano Ali’s official Aliz Pacific website, as of yesterday, among her clients are SMI and Sustainable Forest Industries Ltd. In June 2011 Donlon expressed confidence in Fiji’s mahogany industry as SMI handed a cheque of $3.8million to the dictator for obtaining a licence to purchase mahogany from Fiji Hardwood Corporation. Donlon told Riyaz Khaiyum controlled propaganda broadcast FBC that Fiji has treated their company well in the past year and are delighted to have been approved the licence to be the first to buy mahogany: “We’ve had only the best reception from Fiji in the past 12 months. There has been a lot of restructuring and negotiations going on and there is difficulty in investment worldwide. We’re had a lot of support from government bodies and authorities to get us here and we’re comfortable in Fiji. And we’re particularly pleased that we now have something secure that we can provide to our customers worldwide.”
In July SMI showcased its factory in Deuba to the dictator and his master puppeeter Khaiyum, with Wagner saying the Deuba factory concentrated on “value adding” the mahogany timber by making guitar bodies as well as materials for yachts. In May Wagner had also presented the dictator an electric guitar costing over $7,000 made from Fiji grown mahogany. The guitar was a “gift of appreciation” to the dictator and his master puppeteer from Pacific Western Timbers Incorporated, an American-based guitar manufacturing company.
“Pacific Timbers Incorporated appreciates the opportunity to have access to sustainable supply of high quality of mahogany from Fiji. We now look forward to manufacturing guitars and musical instrument components for many world-recognised brands at our facilities in Fiji. “We thank Government and the people of Fiji for the opportunity to work toward a mutually beneficial relationship with this unique, sovereign and world’s sustainable mahogany brand,” said Wagner, who had handed the million plus cheque to the dictator.
In July Wagner had also informed the dictator that the world’s leading guitar maker Gibson Guitars has labelled Fiji Mahogany as “world class”. “We supply Gibson guitars for the last three to four years and they’ve wrote to us saying that Fiji Mahoganies are certainly superior,” Wagner said. And not to mention the recent deal between the dictator and Gibson Guitar!
John Wagner and Fiji’s Dictator
To paraphrase a book by Joachim Kohler, Wagner's Hitler: The Prophet and His Disciple, it is worth reminding SMI’s John Wagner that no matter how much he sings praise for Fiji’s dictator for granting SMI the exclusive right to the nation’s mahogany, when democracy returns, Wagner and SMI will be forced to sing the right tune, with the Khaiyums, Nur Bano Ali, Christine Mitchell, Anareta Narawa, Annie Rogers and the dictator forced to provide in court a true copy of SMI “commercial notes”.