5 Feb 2014

Alleged mis-use of funds for Vanuatu customary landowers investigated

6:54 am on 5 February 2014

The Vaturisu Council of Chiefs in Efate says past Vanuatu Governments could have mis-used millions of US dollars which were held in a custom landowner trust.

The secretary general of the Council Jimmy Meameadola says that money was meant to be paid out to customary owners of lands, leased out to investors in rural Efate.

The council has mandated the chair of the Vaturisu Reform Land Commission to carry out an independent investigation into all the leases that were signed in the last 33 years.

Chief Meameadola says because a huge number of land leases were issued all over the country during that period, they've estimated an amount running into billions of vatu.

The investigation was prompted after the Minister for Lands, Ralph Regenvanu, told Parliament last month that the Custom Landowner Trust Account was empty when he took over the Lands Portfolio.