VANUATU LEADER DENIES UNREPORTED INCOME

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, July 2) - The former Vanuatu Prime Minister, Barak Sope, has rejected an ombudsman’s report that he had failed to disclose his annual earnings as ordered by the Leadership Code.

The report, issued last month, said Sope had failed to record US$20,000 deposited in his wife’s account by businessman Amandra Nath Gosh.

But Sope said the money was his wife’s and had nothing to do with him.

He has accused the ombudsman of deliberately tarnishing his political career before a by-election due in his vacant seat later this year.

But the ombudsman said Sope’s wife was also covered by the Leadership Code.

Gosh, a Vanuatu based Thai businessman, was made the honorary Thai consul by Sope when he was prime minister.

He offered the Sope government a ruby valued at US$175 million, which the Government intended using as collateral.

The deal never went ahead.

Meanwhile Sope’s hotel, the Talimoru, has been put on the market after his failure to meet bank loan commitments.

July 3, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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