19 Aug 2013

Arrests in Vanuatu over dubious citizenship approvals

1:23 pm on 19 August 2013

Police in Vanuatu have arrested several people in connection with the alleged illegal granting of citizenship.

Among those arrested are a former chairman of the Citizenship Commission and former MP, Jack Eric, and a former secretary of the Commission, Eloi Leye.

They were released on bail to appear in the Magistrates Court.

Chief Inspector, George Toomey, has declined to give details but says those investigated include politicians, leaders and public servants.

He says the suspects have been selling Vanuatu citizenship at a low price and ignored the law that requires ten years' residence for a foreigner to become a citizen.

Sources close to the citizenship office and police say it has became a tradition that a month before general elections, politicians collect applications forms from the citizenship office in order to receive sponsorship for their political campaign.

Some of the foreigners, mainly from Asia, reportedly received their certificate in less than a month after their arrival in the country.