31 Dec 2012

Vanuatu Kilman clears Phocea despite court action against it

3:33 pm on 31 December 2012

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman has authorised the release of the controversial super yacht Phocea amid a claim worth more than a million US dollars.

In his letter to the yacht's owner, the Prime Minister says after his consultation with the relevant authorities, he is satisfied that the state has no legal basis to continue to detain the MV Phocea.

Meanwhile, a lawyer, Les John Napuati, says it is not correct to say that there is no longer any legal basis to detain the yacht as his claim against the Phocea is still in court.

Mr Napuati is suing the yacht, its owner Pascal Ahn Saken and the vessel's agent in Vanuatu for producing an allegedly forged document with his signature on it.

Mr Napuati is the former general manager of the now closed Vanuatu Maritime Authority.

He says as it stands the vessel is stateless because it has no valid documents in place to leave and it is under detention, which has not been lifted.