Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 21 Nov – the Bribery Appeals

The convictions and sentences of all the fourteen Members of Parliament of Vanuatu now being held by Correctional Services, as already reported this morning, were upheld by the Appeals Court late yesterday. The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (Paclii) has distinguished itself by placing all the Appeal Court’s decisions on line already, and the general public can now access their adjudication of the bribery cases by using the Vanuatu paclii.org drop down menu. The major case in question is Kalosil v Public Prosecutor [2015] VUCA 43; Criminal Appeal Case 12 of 2015 (20 November 2015).

There was ample evidence before the trial judge, Justice Sey, that the advances of VT 1 million to MPs were indeed bribes. The direct evidence of seven of the accused in the original trial was that joining the Green Confederation was required for the ‘loans’ thereby bringing its leader Moana Carcasses Kalosil to power. The Trial Judge’s rulings, yesterday’s judgement states, contained adequate reasons for her decision amd there were no errors of law or reasoning.

The so-called loan agreements which became part of the case were described by the Appeal Court as "making no commercial sense."

Core facts demonstrated in the trial are said to include the following … On 21 October, 2014, Mr Fong Man Kelvin of Hong Kong arranged transfer of the equivalent of USD 500,000 into a Westpac account of Pacific International Trust Company (Pitco). The reason for the transfer was stated to be the purchase of shares in European Bank Limited, agreed by only one person, a Mr Thomas Bayer. Westpac carried out due diligence and subsequently filed a Suspicious Transaction report. Several days later Pitco made other transactions to MP Kalosil’s bank account with the ANZ Bank. That bank, too, conducted due diligence.

The background to the criminal charges of bribery is said by the Public Prosecutor to indicate a conspiracy. A Preliminary Investigation into Conspiracy has been lodged with the Magistrates’ Court and will be heard on Monday in the capital where it will be decided if the matter is to be transferred to Vanuatu’s Supreme Court.