15 Jan 2003

Solomons central bank says grant to Government may be a scam

4:25 pm on 15 January 2003

The Solomon Islands Central Bank says it had advised the government to stay away from a Papua New Guinea group promising the country access to a multi million dollar grant.

The government announced overnight it is to get a 350 million US dollar grant from a group calling itself the Royal Assembly of Nations and Kingdoms.

It has been confirmed that the group is linked to the U-Vistract pyramid scam which cost Papua New Guineans millions of dollars in the late 1990s.

The head of the National Policy and Monitoring Office, Sir George Lepping, says the Cabinet decided to accept the grant after advice from a task force which included Central Bank officials.

But the Governor of the Central Bank Rick Hou says based on the advice they had received from PNG police and the PNG Central Bank, they had advised the Government to turn down the offer.

"The institutions they are saying they belong to we don't have any way of substantiating their legitimacy as well, so we don't know much about the group and we advise the government to stay clear of the group."

Rick Hou, Governor of the Solomon Islands Central Bank