14 May 2003

New charges expected in US against Vanuatu-based bank

11:41 am on 14 May 2003

The principals of Vanuatu's European Bank expect new charges shortly from the FBI over racketeering and money laundering charges, after the initial charges were dismissed on a technicality.

The bank's CEO, Robert Bohn, had been charged in the US late last year after a six-year investigation by the FBI.

The bank's chairman, Tom Bayer, and another a former bank executive, Michael Harkin had been indicted but not charged in relation to their dealings with a Barbados company, IDM, which marketed national lotteries overseas.

Mr Bayer says the charges were dismissed because the way they were structured did not comply with American law.

But he says the FBI has a stay order to stop the exercise of the dismissal and is also appealing.

Mr Bayer has reiterated that the Bank did nothing wrong.

"There is simply no evidence to link Mr Bohn or myself or Mr Harkin to any of the transactions of which they claim were illegal. If they are we don't know, but if they were there has been nothing laid even at this late stage. Nothing has been introduced to connect us to those activities."