8 Aug 2012

Vanuatu minister breaks silence over Phocea affair

6:49 pm on 8 August 2012

Vanuatu's internal affairs minister, George Wells, has broken his silence over the Phocea affair.

The luxury yacht had reportedly been visited by unnamed government ministers before authorities searched it for suspected weapons and fake Vanuatu passports.

The head of the Trans National Crime Unit, Andrew Kalman, in charge of the probe was subsequently suspended, prompting him to challenge the government move in court.

Mr Wells has now accused Mr Kalman of interfering with the investigations, by deliberately delaying court documents that should have been processed quickly to arrest the owner of the yacht.

The minister says this allowed the reported owner, who is Vanuatu's nominee as honorary consul to Vietnam, to escape the police net and catch a plane out of the country.

But Mr Kalman has denied the allegation, saying there are witnesses to prove that he was not in any way trying to delay the processing of the court papers.