27 Jun 2011

Vanuatu foreign ministry called on to step up after damning audit of Beijing mission

3:41 pm on 27 June 2011

Vanuatu's ministry of foreign affairs is being told to improve its systems at diplomatic posts after an audit report on the Embassy in China.

The auditors found the Beijing mission was poorly run and has identified corruption and mismanagement by officials and government leaders.

Annell Husband reports:

"The audit report says the ministry should have a manual detailing what is required of staff working abroad. It says the staff should receive basic training before heading overseas. The auditors isolate the lack of contracts for most activities at the Beijing Embassy as a critical issue. They admonished the first ambassador, Lo Chi Wai, for taking a management fee for the Embassy. They say there was no contract for this and Mr Lo should return the money. The auditors say the ministry should have oversight of all spending and should secure and transfer funds to the Embassy as needed. The Beijing mission had failed to meet an outstanding rent commitment to Chinese authorities, and the auditors say this could have been embarrassing for Vanuatu. The auditors suspect kickbacks have been paid to local businessmen, and mention the use of Vanuatu diplomatic plates on vehicles driven by local Chinese business people."