17 Aug 2012

TI Vanuatu says suspicion abounds in Phocea affair

2:21 pm on 17 August 2012

The head of Transparency International in Vanuatu says people are extremely suspicious of the Phocea affair and want the process of law to be followed properly.

Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson says it seems procedures were not followed when a senior police investigator was suspended by a politician.

She says suspicions grew when the Phocea's owner was using the nominated title of Consul to Vietnam without it being officially endorsed.

Mrs Ferrieux-Patterson says the Prime Minister also appears to be turning a blind eye to the Phocea matters.

She says there have been local reports the 75 metre yacht's owner was suing a political leader, prompting the yacht's raid and seizure.

"And questions arise to on that matter, what is going on? Is that because he was suing that person, that a lot of police action started? And all these issues create troubled water in Vanuatu."

Marie-Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says Vanuatu needs independent help from either Australia or New Zealand with a commission of inquiry, as it's very hard to trust anyone amid an apparent cover-up.