20 May 2008

AFP overstepped the mark with Finance Centre raids, says Vanuatu Finance Minister

9:02 am on 20 May 2008

Vanuatu's Finance Minister claims that Australian Federal Police weren't authorised to carry out raids on businesses in Port Vila earlier this month.

The raids were made on Vanuatu Finance Centre offices linked to the PKF accounting firm of Vanuatu-based businessman Robert Agius who was recently arrested in Perth in relation to alleged tax fraud.

Mr Agius' arrest and the raids were part of a US$90 million money-laundering sting by the AFP which had lodged a request for mutual assistance with Vanuatu's Attorney General.

The AFP raids were carried out in conjunction with Vanuatu police but the minister, Willie Jimmy, says only local police were authorised to do so by the Attorney General.

"It's supposed to be only the Vanuatu Police Force that carry out the raids and keep the documents and when you see the AFP police officers accompanying them and staying inside these houses and demanding This is the information we want to see. This is the information we are seeking. I think they are actually giving orders."

Willie Jimmy