Talks on govt $70m deal with bankrupt Australian company ongoing.

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Attorney General John Muria Jnr
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

DISCUSSION on the Government’s proposed $70 million-plus Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) with Orbis and Pacific Investments Holdings, to pay off some lands from Levers Solomons, is still ongoing.

Attorney General, John Muria Junior confirmed this to media in a press conference on Wednesday, saying once it is finalised, it will be made known to public.

Orbis and Pacific Investments Holdings are currently under bankruptcy proceedings in Australia.

Orbis and Pacific are owned by Willem and Margriet Van Vlymen.

The Van Vlymens appear to have been in a joint venture with entities owned by Patrick Wong in the controversial take-over of Levers by Russells Islands Plantations Estate Limited (RIPEL) some years back.

Furthermore, the High Court has ordered the Government to pay Levers Solomon Limited $50 million.

Muria Junior said unfortunately he cannot answer that because the matter is before the court.

“I cannot say much until the matter is fully determine by the courts,” he said.

Documents showed that on 1 July 2021, court administrators in Australia received correspondence from SV Partners, a professional insolvency firm, advising that they had been approached by the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Government via a local barrister.

SV Partners advised that the Solomon Islands Government is looking to acquire unspecified number of Levers properties in Solomon Islands through a proposed Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) with Orbis and Pacific

Documents show the proposed offer under the Solomon Islands DOCA was between AUD$15 million ($80 plus million) and AUD$20 million ($112 plus million), which would be enough to pay all creditors of Orbis and Pacific in full.

On 5 August 2021, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury of the Solomon Islands Government wrote to the administrators, expressing an interest in acquiring the land owned by Lever Solomons through the DOCA process, but noting that any proposal would have to be approved by the Cabinet.

The documents showed on 20 August 2021, the Chief of Staff persuaded the Attorney General to write to the administrators, estimating that a minimum of three months was required to finalise a DOCA proposal for the approval of Cabinet.

On 23 August 2021, the administrators held a telephone conference with the Attorney General, a representative of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Djokovic and discussed the proposed DOCA being formulated in the Solomon Islands and how long that would take.

At that point in time, Djokovic, Muria and Dentana indicated that AUD$14 million ($78 plus million) was being considered.

On 9th February 2022, the Attorney General John Muria wrote a letter to Steve Agosta, Solicitor Director of Nelson McKinnon Lawyers in Sydney, requesting a further extension of the court proceedings to June 2022.

In his letter the AG stated a number of events that has impacted on the ability of the Solomon Islands Government to finalize the DOCA.

These events included the entry and community transmission of COVID 19, the motion of no-confidence in November and the riots.


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