Many of the 300  vehicles (including luxury vehicles) imported by Papua New Guinea to transport the leaders of the countries that participated in the Asia-Pacific summit last year were not returned.

Papua New Guinea police said on Tuesday 12th February 2019 that they were trying to locate 284 cars imported and used to transport the leaders of countries attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the country’s capital, Port Moresby, last year.

After the event, the vehicles were not returned to the State Assets Recovery Unit of the government. Among them there are Toyota Land Cruisers, Fords, Mazdas and Mitsubishi Pajeros. However, all 40 luxurious Maseratis and Bentleys, worth more than 86,000 euros each, were subsequently located and recovered.

According to police, nine of the missing cars were stolen. Of the vehicles returned, some had missing parts and others were badly damaged. Police believe six of the nine stolen cars are still in Port Moresby, while three of them are in Mount Hagen.

The importation of the cars to the summit, which took place in November 2018, was one of the most controversial aspects of the event held in Papua New Guinea. At the time, both the media and activists questioned whether that Pacific country – which, according to data from the World Bank’s March last year – is considered the 50th poorest in the world – could host an international event such as the APEC summit.

With the country battling a national outbreak of polio, rising tuberculosis rates, and scarcity of funding for health, education and other services, critics have seen the hundreds of imported luxury cars as symbols of government waste.

Australia, the US and New Zealand sent elements of the Special Forces to ensure the safety of the participants.