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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (December 23, 1997 - Radio Australia)---Vanuatu’s Ombudsman, Marie-Noelle Patterson, has wound up a busy year of investigations with the release of another damning report implementing top Vanuatu leaders in a retirement project scandal.

Patterson, whose office has been working on the case for the past two years, labeled the case a "sad story of systematic corruption."

She claims former Finance Minister Willie Jimmy appointed unqualified political friends to Vanuatu’s National Provident Fund Board of Directors.

The Fund’s Board, she says, was instructed to start a housing project which favored politicians, offering reduced interest rates.

Former Prime Minister Maxime Carlot Korman has denied the Ombudsman’s claims, saying the project was organized to counter a "racist" policy of the former Vanuatu government of the French-British Condominium of the New Hebrides.

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