18 Feb 2005

Nauru Government tries to discourage land owners taking legal action against receivers

2:26 pm on 18 February 2005

A row is brewing in Nauru over an estimated 80 million Australian dollars that is expected to be returned to the country in about six months' time.

The money is the balance expected to be paid to Nauru by receivers who have settled the island's huge debt to America's GE Capital Corporation.

But, cash-strapped Nauru says it wants to remove the Australian receivers, Prentice Parberry Barilla, and have others appointed in a bid to get the money paid urgently.

Amid this dispute, up to three thousand landowners are poised to take the Nauru Government to court so they can gain direct control of the money when it is available.

Nauru's Finance Minister, David Adeang, says some landowners dispute the plan to have the money paid to a trust and placed in professional funds management.

He says Parliament was called yesterday to talk landowners out of the plan.

"They're jumping the gun a bit because our intentions are the same; we would like to remove the PPB's hold on the funds, have them moved immediately into professional fund management. I mean we've got about, what is it, 70- 80 million dollars sitting idle somewhere under the care of PPB. I mean that is a lot of money not earning even interest."

David Adeang.

Receivers PPB, however, say they cannot release the money until Australian tax liability is met, and this will take months.