21 Jan 2013

Amid Phocea mystery, PNG PM denies meeting Vanuatu diplomats

2:49 pm on 21 January 2013

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill denies that he met two Vanuatu diplomatic passport holders who flew in to Port Moresby without proper customs clearance.

The PNG Customs Commissioner has confirmed the private jet that arrived last Thursday did not breach any customs laws and was cleared to depart last night.

The jet was carrying Pascal Anh Saken, the owner of the super yacht Phocea which has been detained in Vanuatu since last July when it was seized on suspicion of passport fraud and drugs trading.

But Mr O'Neill says reports in PNG media that he and members of his government personally met Mr Saken are just rumour.

"Nobody is authorised to meet the people who were under investigation so I'll be very surprised if any minister or anybody other than the public servants who are carrying out the investigation met with the subjects."

Peter O'Neill has confirmed that the transit of Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot through Port Moresby coincided with that of the private jet's.

Mr Carlot's passport was detained along with that of Anh Saken and Charles Henry Saken detained while officials investigated the private jet and its passengers.

Mr Carlot has now returned to Vanuatu.