Vanuatu opposition allege passport fraud by current government | Pacific Beat

Vanuatu opposition allege passport fraud by current government

Vanuatu opposition allege passport fraud by current government

Updated 30 October 2013, 17:57 AEDT

The Vanuatu opposition leader Ham Lini has demanded Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil stand down from office in the face of allegations he and his minister have been selling diplomatic passports.

It is a similar allegation that brought down Vanuatu's previous Government.

Early this year the Vanuatu government changed hands when the then government of Sato Kilman was removed in a no confidence motion, after allegations that it was selling diplomatic passports.

Now the sides might have changed but the allegations have not.

But while the Opposition has gone public with its demands and says they are providing evidence to the police, the documents are yet to be made public.

And the minister's the Opposition have accused are firmly denying any wrong-doing.

Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney reports.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Jeff Batunvanu, private secretary to the leader of Vanuatu's opposition Ham Lini

COONEY: In April this year, when Vanuatu's Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil led a successful no confidence motion, removing Sato Kilman from office, one of the issues he and his supporters used to get members of Parliament on side, were allegations the government of the day were providing diplomatic passports to overseas residents and foreign nationals prepared to provide support to it.

Soon after getting into office, the new Foreign Minister, Edward Natapei, conducted a review of the country's foreign affairs. This included the termination of a number of diplomatic appointments, including ambassadors, consuls and overseas representatives.

Now those same allegations are being made about the current government and the Opposition wants Prime Minister Carcasses Kalosil to pay.

Jeff Batunvanu, is the private secretary of the leader of Vanuatu's Opposition, Ham Lini.

BATUNVANU: The leader for the Opposition have request the Prime Minister to resign, because they're quite substantial issue, like this are not clear yet, but then the Prime Minister could resign and it would be helpful for the country.

COONEY: The Opposition alleged Mr Natape and the Director-General of the Foreign Affairs, Johnny Koanapu have sold Vanuatu diplomatic passports, with the Prime Minister's knowledge with an asking price of up to 50,000 Euros. In particular, they claim they've obtained correspondence between the Vanuatu Ambassador in the EU and buyers with details of amounts paid, who paid to and the dates of those transactions.

As well, the Opposition claims that despite receiving the payments, the passports weren't provided.

In response, Edward Natapei has released his own statement, saying there's never been any official instruction from him to any official to strike any deal for a passport. Also that in the review of the passport process, he met with many people and his advice to them was that he can't promise any one passports and that Vanuatu has changed its passport act which ends the access of ni-Vanuatu people to new diplomatic passports.

That reviews ongoing and Mr Batunvanu says what they allege is the same issue being investigated.

BATUNVANU: I think it will be the same issue, because they've been currently operating for a long, long time, and people just assume the smoke of it, but they haven't seen the real fire itself. But I think to have it, the police to fully investigate with the help of the government, then it will be much, we could see a clear picture in this issue.

COONEY: But exactly who's implicated in that correspondence and exactly what is alleged remains unknown.

The Opposition says it's been provided to police, but they're not sharing it with anybody else.

BATUNVANU: In these documents have been related on this diplomatic passports and with some amounts of money that it had also been issuing in these documents. We would rather give this to the police to reinvestigate it.

It clearly stated that they have been doing this issue for a long, long time.

COONEY: While Foreign Minister, Natapei has denied he or his senior officials are involved in any scandal, that defence doesn't seem to extend to other staff,

In his statement, he says, while the Opposition may have evidence of email communications between the EU embassy and individuals on the issue of monies, which may have been paid. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs isn't aware of it and those payments don't appear in the governments officials accounts.


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