1 May 2014

Vanuatu Lands staff to be refunded for unlawfully issued leases

12:59 pm on 1 May 2014

Vanuatu's Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu says people will be refunded for buying state land titles in sales which are now cancelled.

The government has cancelled all land leases issued to Lands staff during the tenure of a previous Lands Minister, Steven Kalsakau, between 2011 and 2012.

This followed a consent order from the court saying the leases, sold at discount, were unlawfully issued.

The issuance of the leases is to be investigated by the ombudsman.

Mr Regenvanu says in total 97 leases have come back to the state.

"There are no developments on the titles. They were awarded and then when I got in as Minister in April last year, I put a hold on any dealings on those lands. Staff who have paid money can get whatever they paid refunded to them. And what they paid wasn't much: overall roughly the titles were got at one percent of market value. So it's not a lot of money."

Ralph Regenvanu