Vanuatu Daily News Digest | Bribery continued

October 9 will see the handing down of the judgement in the Bribery Case (Criminal Case 73 of 2015) involving some six ministers of the Vanuatu government and a total of 14 MPs. The commitment was given by Justice Mary Sey at the close of hearing of evidence this morning.

Radio Vanuatu News reported at lunchtime today that the VT 1 million Parliamentary allocation allowance given to MPs is not enough to enable them to carry out the different projects they intend for their communities. The only witness for the defence, Robert Bohn of Epi, said one million vatu falls far short of the VT 50 million Solomon Islander MPs receive and VT 150 million PNG MPs receive. That said, VBTC News did not report that it is MPs themselves who, by their own decision, decide the level of their allocation on the floor of Parliament.

Former USP lecturer Sue Farran puts a very relevant question to Digest readers today: "One wonders why those MPs who have pleaded guilty in the current bribery case have not immediately resigned their seats? Instead they appear to be continuing to enjoy the privileges of their posts. Is it because past experience in Vanuatu demonstrates that however guilty an MP or Minister is of illegal behaviour, as established through the courts or recorded in Ombudsman or other reports, their political careers will flourish?"

Yesterday Justice Sey made it clear to the accused that there is still a case they have to answer, even though defence counsels tried to argue there is no case. Justice Sey said "Having listened to the submissions made by all counsels, I rule that the accused persons have a case to answer, [and] the submissions of ‘no case’ by all defence counsels are hereby rejected."

Yesterday it was learned in court that the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue has no record of the names of the businesses lending money to the MPs and the name of Moana Carcasses was only registered for the years 1999 and 2000. "Green Confederation Party Development Fund" and "Moana Carcasses Kalosil" did not appear on their listing. That said, Daily Post’s comprehensive report of yesterday’s hearings, today, says the VFSC was able to report that Green Confederation Community Development Fund Limited is an international company limited by shares, although restricted from doing business in Vanuatu.