22 Oct 2012

Vanuatu official, Clarence Marae, refused bail by Australian Magistrate

6:12 am on 22 October 2012

A senior Vanuatu official arrested while travelling through Australia with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu has been refused bail over an alleged 4.6 million US dollar tax fraud.

Clarence Marae did not appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday where lawyers argued for his release.

He was arrested during a stopover at Sydney airport in April while he was travelling with Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

Mr Marae - who was a private secretary in Mr Kilman's office - was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.

Three others were charged by police, who claim Mr Marae was instrumental in implementing the scheme by operating companies and bank accounts in Vanuatu.

The court heard Australian authorities had tried to extradite him after an arrest warrant was issued in 2008, but that officials in Vanuatu would not co-operate.

Lawyers for the official said he should be given bail to live with a friend in the Logan area, but magistrate Anne Thacker refused to release him.