2 Jun 2012

Chair of Vanuatu's Citizenship Commission arrested

4:49 am on 2 June 2012

The chair of Vanuatu's Citizenship Commission, Joe Melsen Arnabat, has been arrested amid allegations of the false issuance of citizenship.

He faces charges of complicity in obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements and complicity in obtaining citizenship contrary to Vanuatu's laws.

Mr Arnabat will be back in court on Friday next week after an initial appearance on Wednesday.

At least ten others, including two New Zealanders, have also been charged in an investigation into expatriates seeking to become naturalized citizens contrary to Vanuatu's laws.

The investigation came after claims some foreigners had been given Vanuatu nationality without proper procedures being followed.

The allegations include claims that some expatriates got Vanuatu citizenship within a month of arriving in the country.

Full citizenship in Vanuatu can only be legally obtained after ten years of residency.