Evidence of fraud, smuggling and firearms found in police search of mega-yacht PhoceaPosted: July 24, 2012
Radio Vanuatu last night ran the story that the Vanuatu Police Force suspects the 4-masted blue yacht, Phocea, currently moored in Vila harbour has smuggled high-powered firearms and illegally acquired money into the country and broken Vanuatu’s immigration laws. A joint operation involving the Police, Customs, Immigration and Quarantine took place on Saturday and the Captain of the vessel was arrested. A search warrant was obtained Sunday. The search which followed revealed papers relating to certain bilateral arrangements and official papers with forged signatures. There are 16 crew members including the captain and one from Samoa and one from Tonga who were involved in the citizenship case of 12 March this year. The two were on bail conditions and awaiting court sessions.They are now detained by the Police. The yacht has travelled from Italy through Panama to Tonga and was planning on continuing to Papua New Guinea. The vessel was registered in Vanuatu in 2005 as a diplomatic vessel by someone who became a Vanuatu citizen in 2012. When the yacht arrived in Port Vila certain big men of Government boarded her before Customs Immigration and Quarantine personnel to make clearance. Police said that from the information they have already taken the vessel was impounded earlier in Thailand en route Vietnam, carrying illegal arms and ammunition. The Vanuatu Police are continuing their enquiries.
Daily Post carried further information on the story of the ‘4-master’ already covered earlier this morning.
A cabinet member and a backbencher were implicated by the Police Commissioner in the Daily Post story, as going on board the vessel, but he did not give names. Presumably the cabinet member endorses the PM’s anti-corruption stand. This writer is aware of the involvement of a woman politician who Daily Post said “obstructed police officers on duty” on the yacht.
The sailing vessel, Phocea, was registered on the Vanuatu international shipping registry in 2005 as a “diplomatic yacht of Vanuatu” owned by Anh Quan Saken who became a citizen of Vanuatu this year, 2012. Ownership is also ascribed in Daily Post to one Mouna Ayoub (possibly another form of Anh Quan?), a “controversial fashion diva”. The paper provides an interesting history of the ownership of the vessel. A court hearing took place yesterday. Reporting of that is awaited.
The Acting Commissioner and his Force are to be congratulated on their action in what will be a very significant case, and all done without any current ‘capacity building’ assistance from the Australian Federal Police, which remains expelled.
The Vanuatu National Provident Fund continues to try to deflect criticism made by the website Talemaot concerning its purchase of Bouffa and the way it is using the plantation. Talemaot reports “monkey business”.
The Luganville Municipality is now a shareholder in NISCOL. This is something former councillor and present minister Wells had been looking forward to for a long time.
A Malakula farmer draws attention in the Daily Post to the threats posed by the Government’s and Vanuatu Financial Services Commission’s efforts to bring long-term residents to this country from China. He mentions the way in which the Chinese so-called investors are moving out of the suburban areas. Watch the Cantonese advertisement and the read English translation of the text on our website here.