16 Aug 2007

Vanuatu fraud suspect in Fiji has to answer to local charges before any extradition

7:15 pm on 16 August 2007

Fiji authorities says they will not allow the extradition of an Indo-Fijian man wanted in Vanuatu in connection with that country's biggest ever fraud investigation, until pending criminal cases in Fiji are dealt with.

The director of the police economic crimes unit, Senior Superintendent Arjun Singh, has told the news agency, Pacnews, that Shalendra Sen Sinha, is facing charges of obtaining credit through false pretences.

He says the court has ordered that he cannot leave the country until all his pending court cases are cleared.

Mr Sinha is wanted in Vanuatu in connection with an alleged half million US dollar scam that defrauded the National Bank of Vanuatu.

Last month, Mr Sinha and two others, including a French national fled Port Vila by yacht for Fiji.

They were arrested by Fiji police on arrival.

Vanuatu's police chief of staff, Superintendent Willie Ben, told Pacnews the extradition of Mr Sinha was key to their investigations which are likely to involve more influential people.

The bank fraud has forced the Vanuatu Prime Minister Ham Lini to remove Sato Kilman as his deputy, after members of Mr Kilman's party were implicated in the case.