9 Jan 2003

Vanuatu government wants FBI assurances that its shipping registry earnings are not confiscated

12:02 pm on 9 January 2003

The Vanuatu Government wants an assurance from the FBI that its money in its shipping registry company has not been confiscated.

The Government spokesman Daniel Bangtor says they understand that the FBI has frozen the accounts of Vanuatu Maritime Services, the New York based company which runs the country's shipping registry.

The freeze follows the arrest last month by the FBI of prominent expatriate businessman, Robert Bond, who has been implicated in an alleged international money laundering scam.

The Government has expressed its concern that it has not been able to speak with Mr Bond, who is a Vanuatu citizen.

He was arrested in New Orleans and is now in custody in Memphis.

Daniel Bangtor says it understands the shipping registry company's accounts have been frozen at the request of the FBI, but he says the profits are the Vanuatu Government's not Robert Bond's.

"We have made an approach to the FBI to advise that if funds have been confiscated they should be able to help us. We may be able to make a request to have those funds released because they are not Robert Bond's funds. They are the Vanuatu government's funds."