Public Report on the improper granting of land lease title 11/0E22/016 by the former Minister Paul Telukluk and former Director of Lands Roger Tary – April 9, 1998 - Emalus Campus
The established procedure for purchasing a leasehold property in Port Vila involves an initial application to the Urban Land Leases Selection Committee (ULLSC) which advises the Minister of Lands regarding the application. If the application is approved, a negotiating certificate is issued to the applicant. The applicant may proceed to negotiate with the Lands Department for the lease.
In June, 1991, Mr. James applied for and was granted a negotiating certificate for the land on which he resided in Port Vila. He attempted to proceed to complete the lease but was told by the Department of Lands that he would have to wait until the a valuation of the property was done. He was unsuccessful in completing the leasing arrangement despite continuing attempts. In 1993, he was ordered to vacate the property but was successful, with the help of the Prime Minister’s office to have the order stayed.
In 1994, with the lease to Mr. James pending, the Minister of Lands, Mr. Paul Telukluk personally granted a negotiaton certificate for the same property to Mr. and Mrs. Rory, despite the fact that no application had been filed by them. Mr. Telukluk instructed the Director of Lands, Mr. Tary, to process a lease for the Rorys. Two days later, a valuation of the land was done by the Government land appraiser, Mr. Olsen. The valuation of the land was significantly less than both the market value and the value derived using the Government’s own rate for valuing low income housing. Six days after the valuation, the lease was registered in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Rory.
Mr. Telukluk, and Mr. Tary are wantoks of Mr. Rory and are both related to the Rorys through marriage. The Ombudsman found that Mr. Telukluk breached the Leadership Code in that he allowed favoritism to guide the exercise of his ministerial discretion. Both he and Mr. Tary placed themselves in a position of conflict of interest. Two employees of the Land Office, Mrs. Muliaki and Mrs. Coulon processed the lease knowing of the failure by the Rory’s to comply with established procedures. In doing so, they breached the provisions of the Public Service Manual by bringing the Public Service into disrepute. The undervaluing of the property is an example of a wider practice which has cost the people of Vanuatu significant amounts of money.
· That there be established a comprehensive Government leasing policy which places strict criteria on the exercise of ministerial discretion and ensures that land is leased at its fair market value.
· That Mr. Telukluk not be appointed to hold any ministerial portfolio in any future Government.
· That Mr. Tary not be placed in charge of any Government department or statutory body.
· That Mrs. Coulon and Mrs. Muliaki be reprimanded by the Public Service Commission.
· That Department of Lands employees not accept instructions from the Ministry of Lands which depart from established procedures.
· That the Department of Lands take steps to reverse the lease transaction in this case.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj