Vanuatu Politicians Implicated In Vila Harbor Police Operation
By Len Garae
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 25, 2012) – In Vanuatu, twenty police officers headed by Acting Commissioner of Police, Arthur Caulton, took part in a joint operation with Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Officers to board a mega yacht in Vila Harbour last Sunday afternoon in what he described as a "pretty big operation" and arrested the skipper, a woman, a Tongan, and a Samoan, and confiscated a locally owned truck.
The operation continued until six o’clock in the evening but the Acting Commissioner was tightlipped over the reason for the operation, saying it is connected to local political leaders including a Cabinet Minister and a back bencher without naming anyone at this stage.
The Acting Commissioner said the woman on the yacht was detained for "obstructing police officers on duty." He said the yacht was going to be towed to the wharf by Tug Boat Roimata II but his men assured him that they were satisfied with what they had had access to on board and there was no need to bring the yacht in.
The Police Media Unit named the yacht as "Phocea" and that it was highly suspicious of being involved in smuggling high powered arms, money laundering and breaching related laws of maritime borders.
A statement from the Police Media Unit said, "A court warrant was issued, and a search was conducted, and numerous documents in relation to bilateral arrangements and the forging of signatures on official documents were confiscated.
"On board the yacht were 16 crew members, including the Captain, a Samoan, and Tongan, who were involved in the case of the Vanuatu Citizenship issue on March 16 of 2012. They (Tongan and Samoan) are now in the hands of the police."
According to the statement, the yacht was travelling from Panama through Italy, then Tonga, and she has been anchored in Vila Harbour since last Saturday; its next destination is Papua New Guinea.
The yacht was registered in Vanuatu in 2005 as a diplomatic yacht of Vanuatu owned by Anh Quan, who became a citizen of Vanuatu in 2012.
Police information says the yacht was arrested once in Thailand on her way to Vietnam for illegal arms smuggling earlier this year.
In the latest drama, the skipper and the female person were tried along with the Tongan and Samoan in court yesterday, but the outcome of the hearing was not available at press time.
The Acting Commissioner also confirmed that the Tongan and Samoan males were the same people who were arrested this year, along with a number of ni Vanuatu including the Chairman of the Citizenship Commission, in connection with fraud and attempted access to ni-Vanuatu citizenship. Investigations into the yacht are continuing.
Vanuatu Daily Post:http://www.vanuatudaily.com
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