3 Sep 2007

Vanuatu ombudsman's probe into Lands Minister's dealings near completion

7:27 pm on 3 September 2007

Vanuatu's Ombudsman's office says its investigation into allegations of corrupt land dealings by the Lands Minister is nearing completion.

The probe followed revelations by the Daily Post newspaper of documents showing the Minister, Maxime Carlot Korman's alleged involvement in at least six corrupt land deals.

The documents show that the Minister issued land leases to a company controlled by him and his son for less than the market price before onselling the land at a huge profit.

He is also alleged to have given away public park land to political cronies.

A lawyer from the Ombudsman's office, Heather Leo, says a public report on the probe should be issued by next month.

"We've gone through banking records, banking statements. I'd say it's a very wide investigation, and very interesting too."

Heather Leo says the government has also set up its own investigation into the matter.