The purchase of the fleet, including 40 Maserati Quattroporte sedans worth over $200,000 each, sparked public protest in a country beset by poverty and potholes, and the government had promised to auction the cars after the November summit to offset the costs.
But a police commander said on Tuesday that 284 vehicles are unaccounted for.
“There are 284 vehicles that were issued to personnel to use during APEC that haven’t been returned as yet,” said Superintendent Dennis Corcoran, who heads the State Asset Recovery Unit.
The vehicles include Toyota LandCruisers, Fords, Mazdas and Mitsubishi Pajeros, he said, but not the luxury sedans, which have been tracked down and recovered.
“All 40 of the Maseratis and the three Bentleys are in top condition and locked away in a shed down on the main wharf,” Corcoran said.
He said police knew that nine cars were reported as stolen, that parts had gone missing and that some of the returned cars were “pretty seriously damaged”.
Police believe six of the nine stolen cars are still around Port Moresby, while three have found their way to Mount Hagen, high in country’s rugged highlands.
Corcoran said he was confident of finding them because he had a master list showing who signed them out.
“Basically, I know where all 284 vehicles that I’ve got to collect are,” he said.
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.
But hosting the event stretched the country’s resources, and it required assistance from other nations.
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.
- PNC sources