Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Police apologise to Nicky Hager for “dirty politics”
It’s been a long time coming, but Nicky Hager’s battle with the Police, who badly mistreated him when they investigated his Dirty Politics book in 2014, has finally come to an end. Victory for Hager comes in the form of the Police making him a significant apology and a substantial financial payout.
This is not just a win for Hager personally, but also for freedom of the press, for the ongoing vigilance against police authoritarianism, and the general fight against injustice. No doubt, the payout from the Police will now fund Hager to continue producing his important public interest journalism.
News of the apology and payout can be read in David Fisher’s report, Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker. In this, Fisher provides some background to today’s outcome: “The settlement comes almost four years after the publication of Dirty Politics, which alleged the office of former Prime Minister Sir John Key ran a dirty tricks campaign through right wing bloggers. Hager wrote the book after an anonymous source known only as Rawshark provided information said to have been hacked from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.”
Police then sought to discover who had hacked Slater’s computer and, although they didn’t suspect Hager himself, they raided his home, and also obtained information from banks, airlines and phone companies that Hager was a customer with.
The treatment Hager received was enough to unite many of the left and right in condemning the Police actions. I wrote back in 2015 about how many on the political right – such as Matthew Hooton and Rodney Hide – were highly supportive of Hager’s case – see: Libertarians against dirty politics.
Hager claimed that these Police actions were unlawful, and gained a High Court ruling that agreed with him – see, also, my 2015 roundup of this landmark case: Dirty Politics won’t die. This showed that many experts agreed about the need to have properly functioning mechanisms – especially investigative journalism – that hold the powerful to account, and that the police actions had undermined that mechanism.
It’s also worth noting that Hager’s daughter was the only person at her father’s house when the Police raided it, and she also received a settlement from the Police in 2016 – see RNZ’s Hager’s daughter’s police pay-out ‘a relief’.
For analysis of today’s settlement, see law professor Andrew Geddis’ blog post, Why the police’s apology to Nicky Hager matters. He concludes that what the Police did to Hager was “completely unreasonable and dangerous to our democracy. It should never have happened, and should never happen again”.
Geddis gives a comprehensive account of what the Police did wrong in this case. Here’s the most interesting part: “The police admit that they misled a court by omission into giving them apparent legal authority to raid the house of not a suspect in a crime, but a witness to it. That witness, they knew, was a working journalist whose efficacy depends upon being able to assure his sources… And in what is perhaps the most damning indictment of the police’s actions, they now admit that they told some of these third parties they wanted information about Mr Mr Hager because he was suspected of fraud and other criminal activities. This was what is known in legal circles as a complete and utter lie.”
In this interview, Hager elaborates on the positive impact that today’s settlement might have for public interest journalism: “What I’m hoping this decision will do is that people who’ve got really important information that matters to the public and matters in big issues won’t be too scared to give it to us. That’s what really matters, and we couldn’t have got a better result for that”.
Hager adds that “The PM and Judith Collins were very angry”, and the Police raid was meant to be “punishment”, “not for breaking the law, but for releasing information that powerful people didn’t want to come out.”
There’s been plenty of reaction to the settlement on Twitter, and here’s some of the more interesting responses: Nandor Tanczos (@NandorTanczos) Following on from the shambles & backtracking at the Defense Force over ‘Hit & Run’, today comes another vindication of Nicky Hagar and his work in ‘Dirty Politics’. This is an important outcome for anyone seeking to expose corruption and lies among the powerful.
Rachel Stewart (@RFStew) Everybody on the right of NZ politics will be having a septic, shitty little day. And I’m glad. You can’t buy integrity, and that’s what Nicky Hager has in spades.
Thomas Beagle (@thomasbeagle) So, what’s happening to the members of NZ Police who authorised and carried out the multiply illegal search of Nicky Hager? #TheNZAccountabilityDeficit
Meg de Ronde (@MegdeRonde) Very pleased & proud to see this outcome for Hager & for human rights in NZ. Thanks again to all the amazing people that donated to the Givealittle so we could support this legal action. We all did it!
Felix Geiringer (@BarristerNZ) It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to act for Nicky on the #DirtyPolitics case. I will never meet a person with more integrity.
Alex Coleman (@ShakingStick) Hager is lucky he’s not on twitter to get inundated with all the apologies from the people who said on here that the raid on his house was absolutely fair game and that he was just being a sook about something he should have expected
Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) A victory for press freedom in Aotearoa. The police investigation into Hager had the potential to cause a chilling effect on NZ journalism. Instead, this outcome will hopefully have a chilling effect on future police intimidation of reporters
Lew (@LewSOS) Nicky Hager still the undisputed champion. Nobody can lay a glove on him, try as they might.
Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) Further thought on the Hager outcome: this, coupled with the NZDF’s dishonesty regarding Hit & Run, is exactly the reason why people warn against vesting sec services & law enforcement with easily abused powers. These organisations can and frequently do become politicised
The politicians haven’t provided much reaction yet. But Shane Cowlishaw quotes National leader Simon Bridges: “Look, if the police stuffed up and they got the law wrong, then the apology is the right thing to do. In terms of compensation where that goes, again, I haven’t seen the detail but there’s a pretty well-worn legal track for that in case law, and I think that’s where the answer should lie” – see: Hager triumphs as police capitulate.
Of course, Hager’s victory has involved much help from others. For example, his initial legal action against the Police was made possible by some activists crowdfunding through a Give-a-Little page for some of his legal costs, which raised $65k, and then US journalist Glenn Greenwald raised another $21k.
Finally, this column requires something of a disclosure from the author – because I have championed Nicky Hager’s case, being supportive of his journalistic work, and of his rights. I was an “expert witness” in the legal case that Hager took against the Police. And last year, I wrote in tribute to Hager’s work on the eve of the release of his Hit and Run book, co-written with Jon Stephenson, in which I explain why such work is badly needed in New Zealand: “The real value of Hager’s work is that it enhances the democratic process. His research is usually on the powerful in society, and helps us understand how that power is used. Of course it’s the nature of the powerful that they seek to wield their influence without raising public awareness. But in a democracy we need to know how society really works, why decisions are made, and how they are influenced” – see: Why we need another Nicky Hager book.
Dr Albert Schram … his Netherlands passport was returned last week and he now says he will not go back to PNG to face trial with no guarantee of justice. Image: Dr Schram’s blog
By Keith Jackson in Noosa
In a shock development in Papua New Guinea’s Schram case, the former vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology has said he will not return to Papua New Guinea “until major changes occur in the country”.
Dr Schram said he has been the subject of a “political prosecution” and will forego bail rather than return to an uncertain legal future in PNG.
“[We entered] a parallel world where lies are truth and all people are blind, deaf and mute,” he wrote in Facebook of the charge of “false pretence” he is facing.
“In this world, you are completely alone because there is no point in trying to have a reasonable conversation with anyone. A truly terrifying world, but the truth will set us free.”
News story of the Sevua report backing Dr Schram in The National. Image: File
But Dr Schram said he will still go through “the costly process” of getting his original doctorate legalised and send it through diplomatic channels to the committal court in Waigani.
“This should clear all charges for ever,” he said.
Last Tuesday, against the wishes of police prosecutor Kila Tali, national court judge Panuel Mogish had varied Dr Schram’s bail conditions and ordered his passport be returned to enable him to travel to Italy to obtain the credentials which would have been prime evidence in a court hearing on a charge that Dr Schram engaged in “false pretence”.
Left at weekend Dr Schram and his wife Paulina left Papua New Guinea on Saturday ostensibly to retrieve the doctoral qualifications from the European University Institute in Florence.
“We got out,” Dr Schram emailed me from Singapore yesterday, “probably not able to come back until major changes occur in the country.”
“In his judgement on May 22 on the bail conditions, the judge in the national court was deliberately explicit on the substantive case,” Dr Schram has written on his Facebook page.
“There is not a shred of primary evidence suggesting I have falsified anything, while there is overwhelming evidence that in fact my doctorate is genuine,” he said.
“Finally an independent judge has said what anyone with common sense could have concluded since the complaints were made in 2012.”
Dr Schram quoted Justice Mogish as writing in his judgement:
“In spite of this overwhelming evidence (presented by Dr Schram) Mr [Ralph] Saulep continues to dispute the authenticity of the applicant’s doctorate degree. I find this ridiculous and difficult to fathom especially when neither he or the police are in receipt of evidence from the European University Institute in Florence Italy, confirming their allegations and suspicions”.
The judge continued:
“The current charge, with respect, lacks the primary evidence to prove the elements of falsity. Whether they will have such evidence by the 12 June 2018 (the next hearing) is anyone’s guess. The reality is that they have failed to do so when the allegations were raised in 2012.”
Case ‘will be thrown out’ Dr Schram said: “It stands to reason the case will be thrown out at some point in time and my innocence will be established.
“All this is of course is damaging for police and the complainant – former pro chancellor Ralph Saulep….. Since the conditions for the settlement with the [current Unitech] Council, which included no criminal prosecution, have now been violated, I do not consider myself bound to this agreement.
“In any case, for justice to prevail and the people of PNG to be liberated from police abuse, I must describe the facts.”
Dr Schram said he and his wife Paulina “did not come to [PNG] to get rich but neither did we expect the financial ruin we are facing now.
“The legal fight with the [Unitech] Council for wrongful dismissal first and now the fight for my malicious prosecution by the police has drained all of our resources.”
He said he missed two job interviews because of his arrest and, when the charges are cleared, he will claim damages for “all the financial losses, opportunity costs and defamation of character I suffered”.
Dr Schram also said a parliamentary inquiry was warranted into police abuse in his case.
Police ‘need restructuring’ He concluded:
“Like for all of us academics, journalists and other knowledge workers who cannot return to the country, it makes us sad that until amends are made and the police have been restructured and [brought] under control, we will not be able to see our friends and our new and beloved family in PNG.”
When varying the bail conditions last week, Justice Mogish said it would be academic and career suicide for Dr Schram to abscond from bail and not return to PNG.
“I do not think any reasonable man would just walk away leaving a trail of serious allegations unanswered,” he said.
“His standing in the academic world would be seriously affected.”
Whether or not the judge’s words will be borne out, time will tell.
But it does seem that, given these dramatic circumstances, Dr Schram’s hopes for vindication are unlikely to be realised.
Small price to pay Then again, Albert and Paulina Schram may feel this is a small price to pay.
They had found themselves is a totally powerless position on what appeared to be a trumped up charge in a country where they doubted the politics surrounding their predicament would allow justice to prevail no matter what the court decided.
This has emerged as something of a cautionary tale for outsiders who sail too close to Papua New Guinea’s political winds.
Keith Jackson is a retired journalist, broadcaster, administrator and media educator and has held senior positions in Australia and Papua New Guinea. This article was first published on his blog PNG Attitude and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.
Headline: PNG court overturns loggers ban on custom landowners entering own land
Landowners win six-year legal battle in Pomio District, site of a controversial Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) where large tracts of rainforest have been logged and replaced by oil palm plantations. Image: Scott Waide/EMTV
By Scott Waide in Lae
A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land following a significant legal victory against supporters of a Malaysian logging company.
Seven people from Pomio in East New Britain have been barred from entering their land for the past six years after a restraining order was issued against them in 2012.
The landowners include Paul Pavol Palusualrea and Nobert Pames who have been vocal against “land grabbing” and widespread deforestation in the remote district.
The National Court in Kokopo set aside the restraining orders after finding that there was a lack of evidence.
The landowners were represented by lawyers from the Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR).
“We are happy to have won the case for our clients who are from the forested communities of West Pomio, whose resources have been exploited through SABL. They are now able to move freely on the land that is rightly theirs and continue the SABL campaigns of ridding the logging giants,” said lawyer Everlyn Wohuinangu.
Oil palm plantations The Pomio District is the site of a controversial Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) where large tracts of rainforest have been logged and replaced by oil palm plantations.
The dispute over the logging and land grabbing triggered the six-year legal battle between the landowners and local companies sponsored by the Malaysian logging company.
The court victory is also important for customary landowners in other parts of the country who are battling multi-national loggers.
“The restraining orders were nothing more than intimidation of local people,” said CELCOR director Peter Bosip.
“It stopped them from accessing land to grow food and to hunt.
“There has also been instances of police intimidation and intimidation by other parties.
“Other landowners should see this and stand firm in pursuing recognition of their rights. This was, simply, a suppression of their constitutional rights.”
Scott Waide is deputy editor of EMTV News based in Lae, Papua New Guinea. This article was first published on his blog My Land, My Country and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on the Philippine authorities to stop hounding Rappler, after officials confirmed that a previously dismissed defamation action against the independent news website had been revived and last week brought a tax evasion complaint against the site.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the entity responsible for ordering judicial investigations, tried unconvincingly to explain its decision to revive a defamation complaint that, according to an NBI official on February 22, had been closed because there was “no basis”.
The information that the case had been dropped was a “premature disclosure,” the head of the NBI said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenues (BIR), a Finance Ministry offshoot announced on March 8 that it had filed a complaint accusing Rappler of evading 133.86 million pesos (US$2.5 million) in taxes.
‘Ludicrous’ complaint No credible audit was produced to justify this extraordinary sum and Rappler editor Maria Ressa described the complaint as “ludicrous”.
“The behaviour of these various government agencies towards Rappler are tantamount to persecution,” said Daniel Bastard, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“We call on international bodies to step up their pressure on the Philippine authorities for an end to this offensive against media freedom.
“At the same time, we hail the complete transparency of Rappler’s administrators, which is the best weapon against these crude manoeuvres by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.”
No let-up in harassment President Duterte’s declared war on Rappler was stepped up in January when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was revoking the website’s licence on the grounds that it was not 100 percent Philippine-owned.
Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm that is Rappler’s main source of foreign funding, announced last month that it was donating its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to 14 Philippine managers of Rappler in order to ensure that the SEC had absolutely no grounds for its “unwarranted ruling”.
It was this move by Omidyar Network that accounts for the defamation and tax evasion complaints of the past few days. The authorities needed new ways to keep hounding Rappler, said RSF in the statement.
With the Office of the Solicitor-General and the Department of Justice, a total of five government entities are now bringing pressure to bear on a media outlet that has made a name for itself with its investigative coverage of government corruption and abuses.
‘Grave concern’ Despite Rappler’s defensive measures, Duterte has used these attacks to obstruct the activities of the website’s reporters.
Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Winston Peters’ fight against “filthy” politics
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Winston Peters’ fight against “filthy” politics
No one should have been surprised by Winston Peters taking legal action this week over what he calls “filthy politics”. After all, he signaled before the election that he was determined to use the law to get justice. And although most of the media reaction has been very negative, it really is understandable that he is still seeking answers.
The new deputy prime minister is taking the action against nine individuals, including former National prime minister Bill English, the head of the Ministry of Social Development, and Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr. It’s all because he believes that the personal information about his superannuation overpayment was deliberately made public at the height of the election campaign. For more details of the legal action, see Nicholas Jones’ Winston Peters’ legal action a ‘personal matter’, Ardern says.
Newsroom co-editor Tim Murphy was also served legal papers by Peters’ lawyers, and he details the court action in Winston goes fishing. Murphy explains that Peters is seeking a judgement related to a “breach of privacy”, and is requesting those served provide all sorts of records of communications relating to the Peters superannuation scandal in order to discover who is responsible for the breach of his privacy.
The best discussion and examination of the law around this case is by Mai Chen, in her article published today, No quick resolution in Winston Peters superannuation leak case. She explains how the court process is supposed to work, and concludes: “The likelihood is that it will take several months for the court to determine the matter – longer if there are appeals. If the court grants Peters’ applications, and he finds what he is looking for, then the substantive claim for breach of privacy will then be determined against the alleged leakers.”
Much of the case revolves around the fact that Peters’ superannuation information was provided to Government ministers by the Ministry of Social Development under the so-called “no surprises” policy, in which officials make politicians aware of anything that might affect their job. And it is the decision by the Ministry’s boss, Brendon Boyle, to inform ministers that Peters is also challenging.
Tracy Watkins reports what Peters’ affidavit has to say on this: “The briefing, while required by the National Party government, has to the best of my knowledge no basis in law. The no surprises policy is considered by myself and counsel to be both a breach of the Privacy Act requirements and the duty of care to protect my client’s private information held by the MSD” – see: Winston Peters looks to sue over pension leak.
No surprises in Peters’ fight
Although the legal action has been portrayed as a surprise, Peters was very clear during the election campaign that he intended to pursue the issue after the election. For example, Claire Trevett reported at the time: “Peters said he would speak to his lawyer about his options and was determined to get to the bottom of the matter so people could have confidence when dealing with Government departments” – see: Winston Peters calls in the lawyers, claiming character assassination attempt.
The same article reported “Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said there was a need to get to the bottom of it to ensure people’s privacy was protected by Government departments” and said the episode fed the “perception that dirty politics was rife”. And Peters was inclined to use even more colourful language to describe what had happened, claiming that he was the victim of “filthy politics”, and that “it’s deceitful, it’s duplicitous, it’s all the worst elements of dirty politics.”
Peters supported by left and right bloggers
If Peters is correct and there was an orchestrated attempt to turn voters against him by using state-provided information to the media, then surely Peters is to be encouraged in his bid to find justice. However, it’s hard to find much published support for his endeavour. The exception is Lynn Prentice, writing at The Standard, who says Suck it up political sleazers.
Prentice argues that the leak of Peters’ private information was “clearly politically motivated”, and the whole operation was “a classic Dirty Politics ploy”. Therefore Peters’ legal fight is to be supported: “Frankly win or lose, it is just another round in the continuing battle to reduce the garbage in local politics that National and Act seem to like adorning themselves in. It should also be a round in making public servants accountable for who they choose to share private information with, and that includes with their current political masters. I wish Winston Peters and his legal team the best of luck with cleaning this kind of trash out of our local politics. I’m sure that there will be a lot of other people cheering him on in his search for personal responsibility and liability over politically motivated privacy breaches.”
From the opposite side of the political tracks, blogger Cameron Slater is also in solidarity with Peters against this “dirty politics”. He has written comprehensively about the case on his Whaleoil blog – see: Winston starts dropping lawsuits on media and Nats.
Slater points the finger at National’s current leadership: “This also shows that the deliberate leaked attack against Winston Peters, those involved, and the subsequent actions show where the election was lost. No doubt the discovery process will find that it was in fact a deliberate strategy of National, and one which ultimately backfired. It was a poorly executed and ultimately short-sighted smear job on Winston Peters by the so-called ‘brains trust’ of National’s campaign team. It also shows that the real dirty politics players inside National, who have never appeared in any of Nicky Hager’s books, are in fact those aligned with Bill English.”
Bad blood with National
The launch of legal action is a sign that Winston Peters is in revenge mode, according to Patrick Gower: “Winston Peters search for ‘utu’ is now clearer than ever before. Not only has he dispatched National into Opposition – now he has targeted them with legal action over leaking his pension details. It will now be obvious to most New Zealanders that there was way too much bad blood between National and Winston Peters for them to form a Government together” – see: Winston Peters deepens ‘utu’ with legal action over pension leak.
Of course Lloyd Burr reported at the time of the superannuation scandal: “Winston Peters is on the warpath over who leaked details of his pension over-payments. The New Zealand First leader says he’s the victim of a privacy breach, claiming it’s dirty politics orchestrated by the National government – and he’ll ‘lodge a serious action’ when his lawyer returns from an overseas holiday today” – see: Winston Peters accuses National of ‘filth and dirt’.
Despite the fact that Peters had clearly signaled his intentions to pursue legal action, some political journalists are now suggesting that this week’s legal move is an indication that New Zealand First never would have chosen to go into coalition government with the National Party.
Here’s what Newstalk’s Barry Soper says: “It was just over a week later that the same three Nats filed into the coalition casino with the gambler Peters, who unknown to them, or anybody else for that matter, had already laid his cards on the table. The dealing had been done. Like all good gamblers, Peters kept a stony face, letting them believe they were still in the game whereas in reality they’d been dealt out when the court papers were filed against them. The notion that he could now be sitting at the same Cabinet table with them is beyond comprehension. But they were playing blind, so for that matter was Labour. If they’d known of the court papers they might not have been so generous. But Peters played on, playing one side off against the other until he struck the jackpot with Jacinda” – see: Pension papers is why Wily Winston Peters went with Labour.
The New Zealand Herald has published an editorial today, along similar lines, saying “the main reason this lawsuit is unwise is it discredits his post-election negotiations and inevitably reflects on the Government he has chosen. It is now obvious there was extremely little possibility he could work with Bill English, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce and Anne Tolley since he had initiated legal action against them the day before the election. Why he put them and the public through three weeks of uncertainty only Peters knows. It is hard to avoid the conclusion it was to increase his leverage on Labour” – see: Peters’ suing of ex-ministers discredits negotiations.
The latest Listener magazine is also extremely critical of Peters’ legal action, saying “for him to proceed with this action now does far more to lower his reputation than the pension controversy” – see: We deserve better than Winston Peters’ legal stunt.
The main point of the editorial is to say: “legal action confirms he harboured a material distrust of National. How can we not believe he simply used those talks for bargaining leverage, with no intention of doing a deal with National?”. The Listener thinks the action is somewhat bullying: “It’s also appalling that he has included a senior public servant and two former political staffers in his discovery claims, knowing, as he must, how hard it is for such employees to defend themselves in a politically charged situation. And it’s an ogreish and futile act for any politician, as Peters as done, to demand that journalists disclose sources.”
Media freedoms under threat?
The Herald editorial above provides a further argument against Peters taking legal action over the scandal: “It is disturbing that Peters seeks to have journalists reveal their sources through court discovery procedures. He evidently wants the court to order them to hand over phone records, notes and emails relating to his superannuation overpayment. His attitude to news media going about their job leaves a lot to be desired and may come to pose a threat to press freedom if he now uses his position to try to put his antagonism into law.”
This is another aspect of the case that Mai Chen discusses in her article, suggesting that the journalists involved might attempt to “claim privilege under section 68 of the Evidence Act 2006, which allows them to withhold information that might disclose the identity of an informant”.
Additionally, she says they “may try to argue that there should be no discovery because Peters’ substantive claim will fail, either because disclosing the information about his superannuation was not highly offensive to start with, or because the disclosure was in the public interest having regard to Peters’ position as leader of the NZ First Party.”
Finally, Toby Manhire has also expressed his concern about media freedoms – see his article on The Spinoff: The brand new Deputy PM just served papers on the media and that is not good at all. After expressing disappointment in the deputy prime minister starting his new job in this way, he reminds him of the other lawsuit he has promised against a broadcaster: “And if he’s determined to continue waging war on the media, hasn’t he got enough on his plate already, what with that lawsuit he promised he’d filed against Mark Richardson, for comparing him to pus?”
A previous Police Service Commission decided that Chief Inspector Albert Nalpini was the best man for the job, but then the commissioner in charge was declared illegal.
The commission’s recommendation for Nalpini’s appointment to the top police job was never enacted; the Head of State never received the recommendation.
Nalpini is now asserting his rights in the matter in court.
Governments have over decades changed the top policemen in Vanuatu: so political has been the posting that we have even seen police commissioners become prime minister.
And there have been mutinies and alleged mutinies. It is just as well all the issues are being brought out in this Supreme Court hearing behind which is the bigger question of whether we can manage our security ourselves or whether we need to appoint outsiders to head the police force again – especially those who may have much wider experience.
On national radio, Vanuatu’s presence on the international Finance Action Taskforce (FATF)’s money-laundering and terrorism financing “grey list” heads the news.
The company we keep: a screengrab from the FATF’s website
” data-medium-file=”https://vanuatudaily.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/fatf-screengrab.png?w=300&h=190″ data-large-file=”https://vanuatudaily.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/fatf-screengrab.png?w=590″/>The company Vanuatu keeps: a screengrab from the FATF’s website. Image: Vanuatu Digest
“How grey is our list?” is the question, not just for the broadcasters but also for the people of Vanuatu and foreign investors.
MP Johnny Koanapo, parliamentary secretary for such issues, told Radio Vanuatu midday news that Vanuatu could lose its “light grey” category easily and even find itself again on the black list.
The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) which assesses countries’ anti-money-laundering regulations, dirty money and counter-terrorism financing met recently in Sydney and Koanapo was present.
Koanapo saw the meeting as “very, very critical for the economy of Vanuatu because of the Vanuatu Finance Centre.”
It appeared to Koanapo that it would be easy for Vanuatu to find itself blacklisted again.
The Prime Minister had directed Vanuatu’s national coordinating committee to meet with all those concerned with the country’s offshore rating and to discuss the issues there.
New legislation is soon to go before Parliament. It is to be hoped this will quickly restore Vanuatu’s financial credibility internationally.
Bob Makin writes on media and current issues regularly for Vanuatu Digest.