Failed wind energy project

This is an example of how aid money was not used properly to complete a project. The steel remains of a wind energy project on Aneityum that was supposed to be completed with funds provided by the European Union but the structure only reached this stage and was never completed. Photo: Matthew Hardwick

The former government principal aid negotiator, Victor Rory, has been ordered to serve eight years behind bars after he obtained more than VT14.9 million through deception.

A submission of a restitution order was rejected and the court said the option of community work is not a tenable recommendation.

Justice Oliver Saksak sentenced Victor Rory to a starting point of 10 years imprisonment of each count of obtaining money by deception and seven years to each 20 counts money laundering.

He then ordered the sentences to be run concurrently meaning Rory will serve a total sentence of 10 years on 20 counts of money laundering and 20 counts of obtaining money by deception.

Justice Saksak said that reading through his Pre-sentence report and said that Rory was not remorseful for his acts but accepted that he is a 48-year-old man with medical conditions.

He said that Rory was a well-educated man and skillful in management, computer and administration.

He noted that Rory has served the government over 10 years and is the current chairperson of Vanuatu Institute of Technology in which he had made massive contribution to and the country as a whole.

Rory was a family man with a bus business and was repaying a loan still at the time he was sent to prison. The court gave him 12 months reduction bringing the sentence to nine years behind bars.

The court then reduced the imprisonment term to a final end sentence of eight years after considering the lack of proper monitoring of the fund that include the signature of other people that eased the withdrawals in very short terms and nobody bothered to ask about the use of the money.

Justice Saksak then refused to make more deduction or suspension of the sentence.

He sentenced Rory last week after a trial that found that he intentionally stole the money off the bank. The funds involved were given to the Vanuatu government as aid money towards its priority projects.

Justice Oliver Saksak said that from January 4, 2016 up to December 21, 2016 on different dates, Rory took cheques which he signed to other signatories to counter-sign.

He then took the cheques to the bank and had the money transferred to the account of Lamboung Edition and Translation.

He then withdrew those moneys on different dates and used them for his personal benefits.

The Court found that Rory did those acts intentionally and deliberately knowing what he was doing at the time was against the law.

Those money were entrusted to him in his official capacity as the Government Principal Aid Negotiator and Aid Co-ordinator at the department of Strategic Planning and Policy (DSPPAC).

The money was provided to the government of Vanuatu in response to a request to assist in the recovery projects after Cyclone Pam and other priority projects.

Justice Saksak said that Rory’s abused his position of trust and swindled more than VT14 millions of aid money over a period of a year into his own company account, which showed a degree of planning from his part and the amount is lost forever and there is no way to recover it.

The judge turned down the suggestion of the defense lawyer Brian Livo who submitted that Rory should have his sentence suspended on medical grounds.

“Your medical report is not adequate to make your case an exceptional one”, he said.

“And your chairmanship to the Vanuatu Institute of Technology is not sufficient reason to suspend your sentence."

The sentence was backdated to April 1, 2019 when Rory was found guilty on all 40 charges and his bail was then vacated before he entered prison.

He has been given liberty to appeal the sentence within 14 days if he so choose.

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