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August 19, 2019

Nearly 300 cars go missing in Papua New Guinea after controversial purchase for APEC summit

February 14, 2019
Leaders hold a session during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Port Moresby on November 18, 2018. (SAEED KHAN / AFP/Getty Images)

The Papua New Guinea government has created a special police division tasked with locating 284 high-end vehicles gone missing since the South Pacific archipelago nation bought them to host last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The government bought them amid protest so the impoverished nation’s officials could drive around in style while hosting world leaders. The purchases were widely seen as outrageous given Papua New Guinea’s severe economic problems, and a concurrent polio outbreak.

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Some of the cars cost upward of $200,000, reported The Guardian.

“The fleet included 40 luxury Maserati Quattroporte sedans and three super-luxury Bentley Flying Spurs, each costing more than $200,000, despite the country struggling with a nationwide polio outbreak, increased rates of tuberculosis and chronic funding shortages for health, education and other services,” The Guardian said.

The government’s goal was to sell the cars after the November 2018 summit. But officials have to find them first.

“There are 284 vehicles … that were issued to personnel to use during APEC that haven’t been returned as yet,” Superintendent Dennis Corcoran, Director of Police Transport, told Radio New Zealand. “All state assets, especially vehicles purchased by government agencies and authorized for certain proposes, have been claimed by certain individuals through unlawful means. Any one obtained or in possession of state asset through illegal means will be arrested and charged.”

The vehicles included Maseratis, Bentleys and Toyotas. The Maseratis and Bentleys — about 40 in all — have reportedly been tracked down and retrieved.

The South Pacific archipelago of 7.3 million had gone all out for the event in hopes of attracting attention, and foreign investment, Reuters reported.

Corcoran told the news agency that police knew of nine cars that had been stolen, while others were missing parts, and some of the returned cars were “pretty seriously damaged.”

Corcoran does have a list, he told Reuters. And he’s checking it as many times as it takes to track the cars down.

“All state assets, especially vehicles purchased by government agencies and authorized for certain proposes, have been claimed by certain individuals through unlawful means,” Corcoran told Radio New Zealand. “Any one obtained or in possession of state asset through illegal means will be arrested and charged.”

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