22 Aug 2005

Transparency International calls on Vanuatu ombudsman to probe bribe allegations

3:54 pm on 22 August 2005

Transparency International Vanuatu has called on the ombudsman to investigate allegations that some ministers and members of parliament accepted bribes.

The call follows the deportation from Vanuatu last week of a Singaporean businessman who allegedly offered payments to ministers and MPs if they signed agreements for various projects.

TI's president, Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, says it is surprising that the ombudsman, Peter Taurakoto, has not yet announced an investigation into these serious allegations.

Ms Ferrieux-Patterson says if these allegations, supported by the minister of finance, the minister of internal affairs and the acting foreign minister, are true then it's a breach of the Leadership Code Act.

She says if the ombudsman is to be seen as fair and impartial in the fight against corruption, he should ask these MPs to resign and ask that they be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of the Leadership Code.

TI has asked the ombudsman, as well as the police and government to probe the matter and to obtain statements from all concerned.