Vanuatu almost on OECD blacklist due to lack of financial transparency; another meth lab found

Works proceeding on George Kalsakau drive. Photo: VPMU

Works proceeding on George Kalsakau drive. Photo: VPMU

Following a warning from the OECD, through their Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, Vanuatu has to lift its game on combatting money laundering and terrorist financing. We are just one step short of official blacklisting, according to a spokesman from the Prime Minister’s Office, Daily Post warns this morning. This is a direct result of government inaction over years, the crisis growing with each new administration. Now we risk joining financial pariah states like North Korea, Myanmar, Somalia and Iran. Blacklisting by the OECD FATF would have serious consequences for the Republic and affect overseas investment. It is even suggested that controls might be placed on aid money. Vanuatu has faced this situation before, and no single money-laundering case has been brought to trial since news laws were introduced in 2002. The main new government thrust now according to Daily Post is that 2016 budgetary funds will be found to strengthen the Financial Intelligence Unit, especially to make good the observed failures of previous governments in recent years.

Another possible illegal drug manufacturing laboratory is also being investigated by the Police with significant help from the Australian AFP. This is in Port Vila. The methamphetamine laboratory at Bukura has already been reported on here. It is said other islands may be involved. The AFP assistance follows a request from Vanuatu. A preliminary hearing will be held on 24 March. (Radio Vanuatu)

Everyone is pleased that work is proceeding on the George Kalsakau Drive part of the Port Vila Urban Development Project. Some trees have had to be removed and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation has been contracted to do the work. It is funded by Australian assistance and the Asian Development Bank. Work should be finished by end of April.