JPO Kava owner dismisses allegations

MV Vanuatu People awaits first journey to islands in Tafea Province. File photo

By Glenda Willie

Local businessman and owner of JPO Investment Kava International Export, Paul Hoctene said his ship, MV Vanuatu People is expected to make its first journey to the islands of Tafea next week.

Hoctene made the statement as he dismissed allegations leveled against him in an article carried in Daily Post’s front Page issue # 4983 concerning the quality of kava his company JPO exported and validity of the documents of the purchase of his vessel.

The local businessman argued that Customs have not acquired the correct information in relation to the vessel’s travel documents. He claims that all documents were sorted in Japan “and the vessel has already been registered with the Vanuatu Maritime prior to coming to Vanuatu”.

Mr. Hoctene who also owns the inter-island trading vessel- LC One People, said he is curious as to why he has been targeted for something that he did not do wrong. He said the vessel has been cleared and is awaiting its first voyage to the Southern islands and it appears that some people are trying to bring his business into disrepute.

Hoctene confirmed the Sri Lankan crews and captain who sailed the vessel to Vanuatu, have flown out from the country on Wednesday this week.

Meanwhile, the local businessman has also brushed aside accusations claiming that the “wooden container of over 600kgs of Kava” dubbed “Adulterated kava” belonged to him, as mentioned in Daily Post’s issue #4981.

In an interview with Daily Post, Hoctene said he sent two (2) tonnes of quality kava to a buyer in New Zealand and not 600kgs of kava as stated in the Daily Post article. According to him, the buyer was from Tonga and for some reasons, the buyer refused to buy his kava.

“The Tongan buyer played with me, put Tongan Kava in the wooden container and shipped it to Vanuatu on a ship that he (the Tongan buyer) is an agent of,” he alleged.

“There are no documents that could prove that the kava inside the wooden container belonged to my company, besides the name written on the container.”

Hoctene also argued that Quarantine usually carried out their checks on JPO exports and if it was really their product, Quarantine would have removed the products prior to its export, but that was not the case.

“Quarantine officers checked and approved my kava to be exported to New Zealand,” he said.

The businessman reiterated that all the information carried front paged-articles on Daily Post were false and misleading and were only intended to tarnish his reputation and ruin his businesses.

Daily Post’s previous to articles were based on the statements of the Biosecurity Director and the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue.

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