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Audit finds $2 million in visa fees unaccounted for

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, June 22, 2011) - The Vanuatu auditor general’s office has found serious irregularities and mismanagement at the country’s Embassy in China.

It says grave allegations of mismanagement over the period of several years prompted it to send a team to the Chinese capital in late 2009.

Vanuatu opened an Embassy in Beijing just over five years ago, installing naturalized citizen Lo Chi Wai as the first ambassador, a post now held by former cabinet minister, Willie Jimmy. The audit team says the accusations of mismanagement are verified and that the Embassy’s internal control system is weak and needs to be substantially strengthened. The auditors found fault with the processing of visas, the issuing of diplomatic passports and the appointing of foreign nationals to staff the Embassy, the consular office in Shanghai and a travel office in Shubai. It says the Shubai office was set up illegally and directed it be shut down. It says this office and Shanghai have issued visas worth more than US$2 million but this money hasn’t been accounted for. The auditors put much of the blame on the ministry of foreign affairs and call for it to lay out clear parameters for diplomatic staff. But they also say there’re similar failings within the ministry itself and say additional investigation is needed into possible fraud and corruption there.

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