8 Sep 2006

Vanuatu opposition questions Big Bay deal in Santo

4:03 pm on 8 September 2006

Vanuatu's leader of the opposition, Serge Vohor, has questioned the legality of an MOU signed by the Lands Minister with an American Investor over a potential project in Santo.

The Minister, Maxime Carlot Korman, has signed with a Texas-based investor, Ralph Fair of Pacific Vanguard Corporation, who wants to take freehold land in Big Bay to establish a Free Trade Zone.

Mr Vohor, who suspects corruption may be involved, says Mr Korman has been acting unilaterally and without consent of the customary landowners or provincial government.

He says while the idea of the project itself has merit, the two men who claimed to sign the MOU on behalf of the landowners had no right to do so...

"These two guys, Peter Japeth and Stanislas Etul, are not Nagriamel movement, they are not even landowners in Santo. They are coming from Ambrym and Paama. They have no right to sign on behalf of customary landowners on Santo because they are not people from Santo."

Meanwhile, one of the two men was reportedly bashed by angry landowners from Big Bay this week.