The head of Vanuatu's international shipping registry, Robert Bohn, has defended the legitimacy of provisional registration issued to a mega-yacht detained in Port Vila.
The Phocea has been detained since last July in Port Vila harbour by the Ports Authority due to false documentation and lack of registration.
It recently emerged that the boat had been granted provisional registration by Vanuatu's Maritime Technical Advisory Committee.
But the Finance Minister, Charlot Salwai says the registration is illegitimate because he suspended the Committee last year.
Mr Bohn, who is also a government MP from Epi, says the Committee is active and he claims to be unaware of the suspension.
"It's not to my knowledge that he has done that. Certainly, conversations more recently lead me to believe that he has not done that because there's now discussions on the table at the Council of Ministers level to discuss that, so I believe that probably was an incorrect statement on his part."