Police Head of Transnational Crime Unit suspended after raid on mega-yacht Phocea implicates Govt Ministers

The suspension of the head of the Transnational Crime Unit by Minister George Wells, as mentioned in our post last night, was carried by Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post this morning. The most comprehensive report is in the Daily Post.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, George Wells, has suspended the head of the Transnational Crime Unit, Andrew Kalman. This suspension was made amid the controversy surrounding the mega-yacht Phocea and links to fraud against the state that also implicates two Government ministers. It was during a raid on the yacht organised by Kalman that the photos of the two Government ministers who boarded the yacht were found. Persons associated with the yacht are also suspected of arms trafficking and money laundering.

Daily Post was told that Kalman had received his letter of suspension. It happened amid a blackout by police on information about the Phocea with media being referred to the Prime Minister’s Office for more information, of which there seems to have been none.

The suspension also shocked many in the Police, especially when investigations into the yacht and that of the citizenship case were in their mid-stages. It is understood the suspended officer will challenge his suspension.

Of concern to a great number of people this morning is the apparent cancellation or delay of the fraud case against the Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau. This was scheduled for hearing this morning but fails to appear in the court lists for today. It does raise a very serious question as to whether the sacking of the Fraud Squad leader might also have something to do with this case. We will report further on the matter.

Vanuatu is losing Vt 245 million annually on illegal fishing by vessels illegally fishing in our waters, says Daily Post. The MV Brigitte Bardot which belongs to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, committed to stopping illegal fishing, is in Port Vila and the skipper revealed to Daily Post that over 171 Taiwanese fishing vessels were illegally catching Vanuatu fish.

Captain Siddarth Chakravarty said the visit is intended to discuss with appropriate government authorities how the organisation can assist in strengthening legislation to better protect Vanuatu’s EEZ.