Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 23 May 2015

Previous Vanuatu governments must have enabled one Kevin Lai, pictured on the front page of Daily Post today, to have honorary Vanuatu citizenship, into which he slipped a year ago, and the positions of Vanuatu Permanent Representative at UN ESCAP and special envoy in Thailand. He had set up a bank in Vanuatu and was accused by the Thai police of milking VT 945 million from Thai, Chinese and Malaysian investors to his bank (with negligible website) here in Vanuatu which was ultimately to have the country’s first eight-story building block opposite the Melanesian Hotel.The bank is already in existence and is called the United Development Bank of the Pacific (UDBP). UFun management is another company with which Kevin Lai has close relations. This was used as a headquarter for Vanuatu politicians visiting Bangkok. The charges involved should be an easy matter to settle, especially since it will be done in Thailand.

Meantime, Daily Post today reports Police raiding a Vanuatu bookmaker with Melbourne underworld links. Offering bets on Australian racing results to Australians overseas is illegal in Australia, but that has not bothered a company called Betjack. Such companies can be fined up to AUD 340,000 a day for so operating, but this has not troubled Betjack which faces huge claims from Australian punters it ignores. There would seem to be a massive ignorance of due diligence on the part of the Australians concerned and the betting company.

Meanwhile the Vanuatu Ombudsman has called for the powers of his office to be be increased to investigate the judiciary. He tells Vanuatu Journalism students that there have been many cases which simply disappeared: were never finished. He also wants the definition of leadership widened to enable the Leadership Code to investigate all senior public servants and political appointees, Post reports today.

The Independent reveals Asco Motors has recalled some 29 vehicles fitted with the faulty airbags which have caused 63 million cars worldwide to be recalled.