300 cars go missing after global summit

Published: February 13, 2019 12:44:14 | Updated: February 18, 2019 14:48:16

A fleet of Maserati cars are seen during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in November, 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea - AAP/Mick Tsikas/Reuters

Police in Papua New Guinea are seeking the return of almost 300 cars, which were loaned to officials during last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The luxury fleet was imported so visiting world leaders could be driven around in style.

But a police commander said on Tuesday that 284 vehicles are missing.

The cars include Landcruisers, Fords, Mazdas and Pajeros, Superintendent Dennis Corcoran said.

A special police unit has been assembled to find them in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby.

"There are 284 vehicles that were issued to personnel to use during APEC that haven't been returned as yet," superintendent Dennis Corcoran, told news agency Reuters.

Fortunately the priciest cars - Maseratis worth more than $100,000 (£75,000) each - have been located, the officer added.

"All 40 of the Maseratis and the three Bentleys are in top condition and locked away in the old wharf shed down on the main wharf," he said.

According to police, nine of the cars have been stolen, and some have parts missing. Others were returned "pretty seriously damaged".

In January, officials said most cars had been returned and only around five were missing, local media reported.

Leaders of the South Pacific nation of 7.3 million people had hoped the global conference would attract investment and draw international attention to the country, says a BBC report.

But hosting the event stretched the country's resources, and it required assistance from other nations.

Australia, the US and New Zealand all sent special forces troops to make sure attendees would be safe.

At the time, both media and activists questioned whether it made sense for the poor Pacific country to host an international event like the APEC summit.

Critics saw the hundreds of official cars as symbolic of government waste.

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