Sandalwood valued at Vt 208 million seized by Customs

Vanuatu sandalwood packed in container. Photo: © vanuatudigest.com

Six containers of sandalwood allegedly from New Caledonia have been seized by Customs with a claimed value of Vt 208 million. This is big business. Sylvie Qenegele who works with the Lifou Association of Sandalwood in Vanuatu was importing the sandalwood for re-export later when the Customs Department obtained a warrant to seize the containers last September. Qenegele works with the New Caledonian company Santal D’Zyl in the French territory and in Vanuatu trades as Belair Farm. Daily Post has been trying to obtain details of the reasons for the seizure for some time and Customs Director Benjamin Malas has promised the full information will be given the newspaper once the issue gets to court.

Various changes to the status of the seized imported sandalwood occurred after the seizure took place last year. Qenegele claims the seizure was not in line with Section 182 of the Act which concerns notification of seizure.

The Opposition claims corruption in relation to the transfer of a vehicle from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to a former senior official of the Public Works department. The matter is under investigation by the department.

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