6 May 2008

Vanuatu government concerned over AFP raids on Port Vila businesses

9:36 am on 6 May 2008

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister George Wells says the government hasn't been briefed by Australian Federal Police about raids its officers conducted in Port Vila last week.

In a joint operation with local police, the AFP targetted offices of accounting firm PKF as well as two other companies.

The raids were part of the AFP's Project Wickenby, an international operation to attack abusive tax haven schemes linked to Vanuatu.

A Vanuatu citizen, Robert Agius of PKF, had been arrested in Perth on charges of allegedly masterminding a 90 million US dollar tax fraud in an investigation by Australian authorities spanning over two years.

Mr Wells says the government is concerned that the AFP didn't inform it about the nature of its operation.

"We haven't been briefed on the stakes of the operation before the operation was taken. All the Council of Ministers are waiting for the Commissioner of Police and the AFP representative here in Vanuatu to brief us on the nature of the operation and the legality of the operation."

George Wells.