Vanuatu Harbor Raid On Yacht Yields Controversial Findings

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‘Honorary consul’ disavowed, government officials implicated

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 30, 2012) – Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement yesterday to clarify some of the issues raised on yesterday’s front page of the Daily Post about the status of Mr. Anh Quan Saken, alleged owner of the mega yacht "Phocea," stating that he is not an Honorary Consul of Vanuatu to Singapore.

In regards to reports that the yacht was registered as a diplomatic yacht of Vanuatu, the ministry also confirmed that there are no records within its system that shows that the yacht was registered here for diplomatic purposes. However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that Mr. Saken has been nominated to be the Vanuatu Honorary Consul to Vietnam, although his appointment has not been made yet officially according to the process of such diplomatic positions.

The ministry informed Daily Post that this nomination is yet to be officially confirmed through appropriate diplomatic channels in accordance with 1963 Vienna Conventions on Consular Relations.

Anh Quan Saken’s nomination had already been endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the government led by Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, however the official appointment has not been made yet by Foreign Affairs.

While the appointment has not been made yet through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Saken was already exercising diplomatic privileges and functions overseas in Singapore as reported yesterday by Daily Post.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised: "The Ministry wishes to advice that any use of the official designation ad Honorary Consul without the official recognition of the receiving state is deemed diplomatically inappropriate and this will not be entertained by the Government.

"Honorary Consuls can only fully discharge their consular functions within their designation district in the receiving countries when an official confirmation is reciprocated through diplomatic channels," the ministry of foreign affairs advised through a statement.

Meanwhile, reliable sources have informed Daily Post that at least two senior government ministers boarded the mega yacht ‘Phocea’ because their photographs were found on board and confiscated by the police.

Three other members of parliament were reportedly seen jumping onto the yacht’s dinghy at Pango to get to the yacht moored outside Pango Point, even before the yacht was cleared by customs and immigration.

The police reportedly found papers of the Vanuatu Maritime Authority with the signature of a former VMA Commissioner still intact.

These VMA papers were allegedly used to create false shipping registrations for Vanuatu and false call names.

Daily Post sources said the police raid also found that one of the senior government ministers went on board the yacht because he was allegedly conned into believing that the owner of the yacht had connections to a university being set up in Vanuatu.

These photographs are currently with the police Trans-National Crime Unit.

In court yesterday the Prosecution team made an application to remand in custody the Tongan and Samoan arrested during the raid on the yacht and the court had to be adjourned to meet later in the afternoon yesterday but Daily Post was not present at around 4pm to find out whether the application was sustained by the court.

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