Mystery Island a model for tourism; President replaces Police Commissioner

Cruise ship visitors disembark on Inyeug, a.k.a. Mystery Island. Photo: DFAT

Cruise ship visitors disembark on Inyeug, a.k.a. Mystery Island. Photo: DFAT

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Govt strengthens Financial Intelligence Unit; Vila mayor rebuts Opposition claims

10000 vatu note

Vanuatu is not yet being blacklisted as alleged by the Vanuatu Financial Centre, yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister states. Vanuatu is in the process of improving its compliance processes where money laundering and proceeds of corruption are concerned. This puts us on a grey list of jurisdictions being ever more closely watched by the OECD. The government is strongly emphasizing that financial stakeholders must abide by legislation and policy directions and work with government to meet international requirements. The Vanuatu Finance Centre is seen as stubborn in its refusal to comply in various ways with legal requirements. The government Financial Intelligence Unit is being increased in strength to help compliance.

Some of the detained former MPs have been transferred to the low risk communal facility. Those with Read the rest of this entry »

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, Read the rest of this entry »

Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 December 2012

Radio Vanuatu begins its news coverage today with the violence between Port Vila Tannese communities spreads to Tanna. Stores were damaged in Lenakel on Sunday. Vanuatu Mobile Force officers were flown to Tanna yesterday to help the police presence there. The VMF personnel took reports and witness statements from several places on the island. A meeting with a police and VMF presence was arranged by chiefs of the areas concerned.

Daily Post today leads with news of the defeated motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Sato Kilman and comment from veteran politician Willie Jimmy Tapangararua about the floor crossing of certain MPs who had signed the motion but who returned to the Government side for the vote on it. He describes their action as “based on personal interest” and says the MPs who  crossed just want to be ministers. Speaker George Wells closed the sitting of Parliament for the Christmas recess after the debate on the motion.

Internet service providers in Vanuatu met yesterday to agree to a big improvement to the way they connect to the internet, reports Radio Vanuatu News. This is apparently the first time in the Pacific that ISPs have joined forces in this manner. The Vanuatu Government, Digicel, Telsat Pacific, CanL and SPIM are all parties to the agreement.

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Breaking news: Vanuatu accountant Robert Agius found guilty in Australian tax evasion case, jailed for nine years

Vanuatu accountant Robert Agius

Vanuatu accountant Robert Agius

Robert Agius has been sentenced to almost nine years’ jail by an Australian court for his part in an A$5 million (Vt 476 million) tax evasion scheme.

The Vanuatu-based accountant with PKF, (which changed its name to iCount after Agius’s arrest), will be eligible for parole in March 2019.

Read the full story on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Key quote:

Justice Simpson noted testimonials from Agius’s supporters that he had been a generous contributor to Vanuatu society.
“That perception of him is false,” she said, as while at the same time he had embarked on “the systemic fraud of the entire Australian society.”

Fisheries Dept and VMF Maritime wing refute Sea Shepherd’s claims of illegal fishing

Daily Post today has particularly interesting comment from Fisheries and the Maritime Wing refuting the claims of the Sea Shepherd Connservation Society (the MV Brigitte Bardot). Fisheries Director Moses Amos and Commander John Taleo point out that many of the vessels that the international NGO complains of have agreements to fish from Vanuatu and they are all regularly monitored by GPS. The RVS Tukoro spends quite a lot of time at sea and there is regular contact between the region’s maritime organisations. In addition, Australia still continues financial support to the Maritime Wing, despite Prime Minister Sato Kilman expelling the Australian Federal Police.

This writer also understands Australian maritime surveillance also played a significant role in bringing the rogue yacht Phocea into custody.

The municipality of Canala in New Caledonia is seeking assistance from Port Vila on improving its rubbish dump facility. Excellent. The Vanuatu-maintained and JICA-planned site at Etas is recognised for its excellence and this may help in further prevention of industrial waste destruction facilities as we nearly had imposed on us a year ago. Daily Post says visitors from New Caledonia inspecting the dump site were “extremely impressed” and took many photos to demonstrate its characteristics to their council.

The Reserve Bank and commercial banks, insurance and finance companies, are holding a workshop on 9-10 August to gather stakeholders to work out a financial services action plan for the country. Peter Tari, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, announced on Radio Vanuatu News. “We want to gather all stakeholders to plan how we can go forward to enable financial services to reach everyone,” he said.

Daily Post says the copra subsidy ends this month. What’s the bet it won’t, this being an election year?

The Parliamentary session sitting on 22 August has 19 new Bills, many of them amendments.

We were unable to obtain The Independent and Vanuatu Times, so there will be another post later today if they carry significant news. Daily Post today has some extremely interesting features concerning how we will meet budget requirements, Unelco, and what’s happening with surgical developments in Vanuatu. Not just cars, Hollywood and cookery.

Oh, and on Unelco, the prepaid Unelco metering at Matantapua was probably just a political promise to boost Minister Steven Kalsakau’s election chances. The Unelco meter in the photo was just a giaman [which means ‘fake’, for our non-bislama readers overseas].