The Public Prosecutor’s office has begun to build the prosecution briefs into the Commission of Inquiry (COI) reports of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) and the 9th European Development Fund to get those implicated appear in court.
The Acting Director General of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Pacco Siri, says this process is in line with a decision made on June 14, 2017 by the Council of Ministers (COM) under decision No. 117 of 2017 to appoint a Task Force to carry out further investigations into the VNPF Recommendations of the COI.
At the COM meeting, the ministers recommended that the government endorse the establishment of a Criminal Task Force whose role would be to further investigate the recommendations relating to the prosecution of the past board members, the past General Managers and former staff of VNPF.
The COM decision was that the appointments would be effected by the Minister of Justice and Community Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
Mr Siri further says the VNPF Criminal Task Force Report is now complete and the Ministry of Justice and Community Services has forwarded a copy of the Criminal Task Force Report together with the EDF 9 report to the Office of the Public Prosecutor for appropriate action and prosecution as endorsed by the Council of Ministers.
Copies of the reports are being forwarded to the Police and other agencies as recommended by the reports.
Siri says that the Ministry of Justice was advised last week by the office of the Public Prosecutor that they have begun building the prosecution briefs and will be engaging with the investigators and once the files are ready and the assessment of the evidence shows a reasonable prospect of conviction, those implicated will immediately go before the courts.
On related matters, the Acting DG says that as the reports are only reports and are not judicially sanctioned, people should wait until law enforcement agencies take the matter in accordance with lawful process and people should not make early conclusions until all processes are complete.
On that same note, the Acting DG says that it has taken longer to complete both the EDF 9 COI and the VNPF Criminal Task Force report because of the nature of the investigations involved, as they are complicated compared to other previous COIs.
Also the availability of members as they are full-time professionals who undertook the investigations.