12 Nov 2012

Phocea stirs more controversy in Vanuatu

1:14 pm on 12 November 2012

Vanuatu's caretaker government led by Sato Kilman is facing another allegation of corrupt dealing over the release of the mega yacht Phocea, which was seized over an alleged smuggling operation.

Sources close to Ports and Marine say 40,000 US dollars has been set aside in an out-of-court agreement for the yacht to be allowed to leave Port Vila harbour, where it has been detained since July.

Yachting experts say if Phocea is put on sale, Vanuatu could get more than six million dollars.

Sources say Vanuatu authorities have already spent more than 200,000 US dollars in their investigations into the super yacht, which is expected to sail shortly to beat the cyclone season.

The caretaker Minister of Finance, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, who is responsible for the International Shipping Registry, says the possible release of the Phocea is a civil case.

The reported owner of the yacht, Pascal Anh Saken, who managed to leave Vanuatu before the police raided the Phocea, is said to be still in possession of a diplomatic passport but Mr Kilman has issued an instruction in August for it to be cancelled.