4 Jul 2012

Stolen New Caledonia machinery spotted in Vanuatu

4:25 am on 4 July 2012

French authorities in New Caledonia are investigating the theft of heavy equipment, worth more than two million dollars, which has been taken to Vanuatu.

Reports from New Caledonia say French police are negotiating with the Vanuatu government to travel to Port Vila to investigate the theft of the bulldozers and trucks.

The reports say the equipment and vehicles are believed to be on Erromango.

A few years ago, a French company, Amy Vanuatu, was set up in Vanuatu to build roads and mine sand in Erromango for export to New Caledonia, but the project failed over land disputes.

A Ni-Vanuatu businessman, who used to invest in New Caledonia but returned to the country following bank problems, recognised the truck and other machines at the main wharf of Port Vila.

He claims the French company changed the serial numbers before shipping the items to Vanuatu.