‘Suitcases of cash’ offered for land in Palau

Friday April 28, 2017 Written by Published in Regional

PALAU – Palau’s Chamber of Commerce says property values are going up rapidly and locals are reportedly being offered suitcases of cash for their land.

 

The chamber’s comments come after a Chinese website advertised houses for sale in Palau complete with residency permits of up to 99-years and direct access to the US after two years.

The Island Times reports that the advertisement also offers buyers easy access from Palau to other countries including Japan, Korea, Philippines and Taiwan.

Palauans have access to the US through its Compact of Free Association with the US.

The Chamber of Commerce says it’s sceptical about the advertisement’s claims and advises investors to do their due diligence.

But its spokesperson, David Mason, said that Palau property is increasingly in high-demand with a corresponding boom in tourist numbers from China.

“The article didn’t surprise me because I think this is going on and I think some Chinese people are trying to get access to the US from other Pacific Islands like Guam and CNMI – I think they have had issues with this as well.

“So, I think if it was true, then I guess it would give them another route to the US but this is pretty crazy to me  that they are even offering this.

Whether it is accurate or not, it has reflected reflect a lot of foreign investment interest interest in buying property in Palau.

“Since 2014 and 2015, when we started seeing a huge boom in Chinese tourists, property values have gone up drastically.

“It’s very difficult to find housing and office space in Koror right now.

“On the one hand, if you own property, all of a sudden your property is now a lot more valuable but that involves then having to lease it out

“So, there’s been a lot of people who I think have been – not manipulated –but they weren’t well-informed on the actual price or value of their land and people literally come to them with a suitcase full of cash and then they just open it up and that’s hard to say no to.

“Then all of a sudden they’ve leased out their land for 50 years and they’ve got all their money up front and don’t have any money 20, 30 years into it. They also don’t have their land.

“There are a lot of stories going around about that happening. There are also fears about money laundering through that, which our Financial Intelligence Unit is closely following. It’s certainly been a drastic change.”       

            - RNZI

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