PNG Police Want 284 APEC Luxury Cars Back

Papua New Guinea police have asked local officials to return 284 imported luxury cars used during last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) summit.

"The state assets especially vehicles purchased by government agencies and authorised for certain purposes have been claimed by certain individuals through unlawful means," police superintendent and director of PNG Police Transport Dennis Corcoran said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Anyone (who) obtained or is in possession of state assets through illegal means will be arrested and charged."

Police said 40 Maseratis and three Bentleys had been returned and "are in good condition and locked away".

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The purchase of Maserati Quattroporte sedans and Bentley Flying Spurs, each costing more than $150,000, had been heavily criticised ahead of the summit as lavish and unnecessary.

Critics said the impoverished country, which has been struggling with health crises including polio and tuberculosis outbreaks, as well as suffering a deadly earthquake in 2018, could have benefited from investments in hospitals, roads, schools and drinking water.

The missing vehicles include Toyota Land Cruisers and Mitsubishi Pajeros.

"We are currently investigating the cars and their status. We are not sure exactly where they are," Royal PNG Constabulary chief superintendent Dominic Kakas told dpa over the phone on Wednesday.

A police unit has been established to retrieve the assets, Kakas added.

PNG, with a population of some 8 million people, is the smallest and the poorest of APEC nations.

The APEC summit was the biggest event it ever held.