Vanuatu daily news digest | 22 January 2013

Minister Alfred Carlot’s visit to meet Anh Quan Saken in Port Moresby had nothing to do with the ownership of the ship Phocea, he tells us today on VBTC Radio News. He travelled from Brisbane with the PNG foreign minister and received proper protocol treatment on arrival in PNG. He was simply using every opportunity to carry out his duties as Foreign Minister, he says, needing funds for setting up new overseas missions and for paying such debts as UNESCO membership, he says. No mention of collecting brown paper envelopes in preparation of the upcoming Provincial elections, however. Minister Carlot wanted to clarify to the public that Pascal Anh Quan Saken and Henry Charles Saken were on a diplomatic mission for the Vanuatu Government through the Council of Ministers which appointed them. We’d like to see the Government gazette where this appointment is confirmed, because last time this was publically broached, PM Sato Kilman was trying to put some distance between Quan and himself. The two Vanuatu naturalised citizens, according to Interpol and Pacific transnational crime experts, are known for their involvement with the drugs and the arms trades. The PNG Opposition Leader Belden Namah has spoken out against the visit of Carlot and the Sakens on Radio New Zealand International. And PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill confirmed with Radio New Zealand International that Minister Carlot arrived on a private jet belonging to the Sakens. Minister Carlot’s passport was held while investigations continued, he said. However, following a meeting between the Sakens and the PNG Government, their departure was permitted on Sunday night at 8pm, even though PNG police wanted the plane, passengers and crew held while they investigated.

An anonymous commenter to this blog says that contrary to what we reported yesterday, Vu Anh Quan and his brother Charles Henry only began their association with Vanuatu two years ago, and are not ni-Vanuatu of Vietnamese origin, but from France. The commenter also says Alfred Carlot’s claim that Vu Anh Quan is his childhood friend is a falsehood.

The Director of Ports and Harbours, Morris Kaloran, says his suspension is politically motivated, and that the reasons given for his suspension by Government have already been dealt with by the Public Service Commission, he tells Daily Post. “It’s all to do with the issue of the mega-yacht Phocea. The government wants to release Phocea, but with my presence as Director of Ports and Harbours and applying the Vanuatu laws, we just cannot simply release Phocea like that,” said Kaloran.

Daily Post today, like VBTC News, also carries Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s refutation of his contacts with the Sakens having anything to do with Phocea, which hardly seems to matter now. So we now have a fourth Saken in addition to Pascal Vu Anh Quan, ‘Mme. ‘15%’ Thi Tham Goiset and Juris Gulbis: Charles Henry Saken. Presumably the giaman “university” at Pango is named after this Saken, the brother of Pascal Vu Anh Quan. We wonder how much this kastom honorific retails for. The Nagriamel movement is doing a sterling job of polluting the kastom of Santo by giving these questionable individuals this title.

Daily Post carries further information from the PNG Post Courier concerning the Sakens’ mystery flight aboard their 737 from war-torn Mali in West Africa, through the Maldives and Singapore to Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby. The mystery plane was allowed to leave PNG having breached no laws of that country, though the O’Neill Government, like the Kilman Government, has a history of allowing suspect people off the hook. And against the wishes of the PNG police. Sound familiar, Vanuatu readers? Post Courier also revealed a visit to the new US Ambassador to PNG, Walter North, by Minister Carlot, who refused to talk to Post Courier. Daily Post also carries further details of the Phocea’s fake registration.


Saken brothers known for drugs, arms trade: Interpol [PNG Post-Courier]

Sekan [sic] brothers known for drugs, arms trade: Interpol

PNG Post-Courier, Monday 21st January 2013

THE two Saken brothers, Vu Anh Quan and Charles Henry who are connected with the suspicious plane are known for their involvement in drugs and arms trade, according to Interpol and transnational crime officials in the Pacific.
The two brothers are naturalized citizens of Vanuatu but are of Vietnamese origin.
According to PNG police, they became aware of the Saken brothers’ activities both in Vanuatu and throughout the world through Interpol and other law enforcement agencies, particularly Transnational Crime setup in the Pacific, of their involvement in drugs and arms trade, especially where there are rebellions and insurgency activities.
In their assessment of the incident, the aircraft landing in PNG has triggered off many outstanding allegations against the two Saken brothers and the current Vanuatu Minister for Foreign Affairs Albert Calot [sic] who is engrossed in an ongoing political power struggle in Vanuatu.
Police in their brief said: “The fact that the two Saken brothers were uplifted from Mali is very suspicious as this country is currently going through an open conflict and rebellion.
“What is more interesting is a large Boeing 737 aircraft is ideal for carrying firearms or other illicit contrabands.
“It is alleged that Mr Quan has travelled extensively into many hostile and trouble hotspots in the world and thus has been implicated in illegal gun running and drug trafficking activities in the recent past, especially in the Golden triangle area in South East Asia and in Central and South America. Thus it is obvious Africa is now his main focus.
“What is more suspicious is that they did stop over at the tax haven country of Maldives for re-fuelling purpose as indicated by the pilot.
“However, it is highly probable that any illegal proceeds may have been banked on this island to avoid being detected once they entered PNG, or to stopover in Singapore or Australia.
“It is no wonder they had to fly eleven hours direct into Port Moresby.”

Vanuatu daily news digest | 21 January 2013

While Phocea remains in Vila Harbour on its allegedly forged papers today, the Director of Ports and Harbours, Mr Morris Kaloran, was suspended last Friday, Daily Post tells us today. Questions concerning the request of the Brussels based EU representative for Vanuatu have also been raised. Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy, asked for PNG assistance for the plane taking the two Sakens to PNG. And overseas media tell us quite a bit more today, most significantly that Vu Anh Quan Saken and Charles Henry Saken are wanted by Interpol on charges of drug and arms smuggling. Their private charter flight originated in Mali in west Africa, where radical Islamic forces have take control over half the country, and a military intervention by France has just begun, an odd destination for a joy flight. The Daily Post page 1 story has government spokesman Jeff Joel Patunvanu telling us that Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s trip to Port Moresby is private, meaning it was not an official Vanuatu Government trip for Carlot to meet with the two Sakens. Serious consequences are likely for the Sato Kilman government, as it seems his Ministers and overseas diplomats have been aiding and abetting drug and arms smugglers. As we noted several weeks ago, Vanuatu has no laws in place to deal with persons wanted internationally for war crimes. Which perhaps explains why Vu Anh Quan and his associates want to set up shop in Vanuatu.

It appears that Vu Anh Quan and Charles Henry were both born in Vanuatu, members of Vanuatu’s Vietnamese population. Vu Anh Quan is a childhood friend of Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot. More on this to follow.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 20 January 2013

The plot thickens. After this blog broke the story last Friday, Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post took the news of Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot and Phocea claimant Vu Anh Quan Saken meeting in Papua New Guinea a step further this morning. The Vanuatu Government says it is not aware of Minister Carlot’s visit to PNG, announced Government Public Relations Officer, Jeff Joel Patunvanu, after it was revealed that PNG Police are likely to arrest Carlot in relation to a transnational crime. This came to light after the arrival in PNG and arrest of Vu Anh Quan Saken and Charles Henry Saken on Thursday. Both are wanted in Vanuatu in connection with the mega-yacht Phocea saga. This is the luxury sailing boat in Vila Harbour detained by the Vanuatu Ports and Harbours Director despite the efforts of Prime Minister Sato Kilman to have the vessel released.

PNG authorities became suspicious about the Sakens’ arrival on a chartered Boeing 737 at Port Moresby’s Jackson airport after PNG officials received correspondence from the Vanuatu Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels requesting clearance for the Sakens, who were said to be both holding Vanuatu diplomatic passports. The Sakens made an unusual request for the 737’s crew to sleep on board during its stopover in Port Moresby, but this was denied by the PNG aviation authorities. PNG Police suspect there are quantities of cash on board as the Sakens arrived with large sacks, saying they would clean the plane, which had come from the Maldives and Singapore. The two Sakens were carrying false identity documentation and claimed they were in PNG on a private mission with Minister Carlot.

Reproduced below is a letter from the Embassy of Papua New Guinea requesting clearance for the Sakens:

Request from Brussels PNG embassy for flight clearance for Vu Anh Quan Saken and Saken Charles Henry, 11/01/2013

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 6 December 2012

Electoral petitions have kept Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek and the Supreme Court at Dumbea Hall occupied in the last few days, and the Chief Justice has had reason to insist on correct procedures being followed by all legal counsel for petitioners. There has been duplication of petitions and instances of insufficient sworn evidence. “Unless you provide substantial evidence and file in sworn statements with the petition you are just floating allegations”, the Chief Justice cautioned various counsel, says Daily Post.

This morning also sees the Opposition’s constitutional case against the Speaker’s ruling that their motion of no confidence is not in order. Without waiting for that case (Constitutional case No.11 of 2012) to be heard, it has been publicised in Daily Post that PM Kilman’s PPP party has given the Agriculture portfolio to Luganville MP Kalvau Moli. PPP’s Dunstan Hilton relinquished the post to give PM Kilman the numbers to defeat the motion, which Moli had signed. The motion will be debated tomorrow if the Chief Justice agrees that the planned Parliamentary sitting is in order.

The Minister of Public Works and Utilities has obtained a deed of release for the sailing boat Phocea to enable it to leave port with immediate effect. Forged documents were found on the vessel by the authorities when a boarding party of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine officials boarded after the vessel ignored proper entry requirements for several days. The self-styled owner of the vessel then fled and has not returned since to claim Phocea or to answer charges put by the Transnational Crime Unit. However, his counsel in Port Vila is said to have secured release of the vessel for a pathetic VT 1 million — under international law, Vanuatu should be able to receive up to VT 100 million because of the ship’s falsified documentation. In spite of the “deed of immediate release”, Customs cannot release the vessel without original and proper international registration papers being supplied.

RNZI reports that Director of Ports and Marine Morris Kaloran says he has not been asked by the office of the Attorney General to release Phocea, and that Iauko has no authority to release the vessel. Kaloran says that the Phocea’s arrival in Vanuatu breached international maritime law and Vanuatu should force Vu Anh Quan Saken to face charges.

The DG of Lands Joe Ligo is conforming to a recent decision of the Council of Ministers that all sale of leases to state land in Vanuatu must cease. Ligo gave the end date for all such sales as November 26. No word yet if the recent sale of leases to state-owned land to Joe Ligo and other Lands officers have also been stopped.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 November 2012

The shock horror news of today is the former political adviser in the Ministry of Health being awarded a VT 3 million health consultant contract as qualified and experienced health practitioners are being retrenched. Daily Post reports his fee is higher than any ni-Vanuatu doctor’s salary. Joemelson Arnhambath Joseph formerly worked in Snoopy’s Stationery and as Chairman of the Citizenship Commission when that office became embroiled in controversy. From evidence before the various Phocea court cases, Arnhambath acted as middleman for the citizenship of the two ‘debt collectors’ in the employ of Vu Anh Quan Saken, obtaining their citizenships in contravention to the Citizenship Act and in (possibly) record time. The Government has not laid any charges in this matter. Arnhambath served under his brother-in-law, former Minister Willie Reuben, as political adviser, and his new 12-month contract was signed by the now removed DG of Health, Maturine Carlot Tary. Arnhambath will “ensure human resource workforce remunerations and grading per per the revised health structure are carried out  in timely manner and ample time”, whatever that means.

Daily Post also highlights the visit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) DG, Pascal Lamy. He will have kava today with DPM and Minister for Trade Ham Lini, before departing tomorrow. Trade Director Sumbe Antas told Daily Post the brief visit is in relation to the almost deadlocked Doha Round of talks and the ministerial meeting of the WTO in Bali next month. The Vanuatu Council of Churches and other organisations are hoping a mission promised to assess the relevance of the WTO to the aspirations of the people of Vanuatu will still take place here, after a strong campaign against the WTO accession.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 November 2012

The weekend has seen more electoral petitions being prepared by lawyers for adjudication by the Supreme Court. The Representation of the People Act requires petitions to be lodged with a vt20,000 fee within 21 days of the publication of the official results of the election. Radio Vanuatu News reported a Shepherds Outer Islands candidate ready to file a dispute yesterday. The national broadcaster has added to the list today the loss of tally sheets from certain Efate polling stations which did not get to the Electoral Office and threatening action against certain politicians on Ifira. The Labour Party says there must be an Efate by-election and requests the government to put the Principal Electoral Officer back in his position. The fraud case being brought by 33 candidates of Port Vila concerning the electoral result in the constituency of the capital was advanced over the weekend. Some 400 electoral cards of people who should have been able to vote at Vila City College, but whose names were not on the electoral roll, have now been collected. There were also legal difficulties due to the ungazetted change of location of the Vila City College polling station to premises near the Teouma Bridge.

Last weekend’s Independent reports that the caretaker Government allegedly reaches a solution to release the mega-yacht Phocea to its self-proclaimed owner Vu Anh Quan Saken who fled before Vanuatu’s justice system could deal with him. The first task of next Monday’s new government will have to be to rescind any such agreement — or require the alleged owner to come and sue the new government in the Supreme Court of Vanuatu.

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