Minister of Trade appoints Trade Commissioner for VT 6.5m

THE Office of the Opposition has a photocopied service agreement between Vanuatu Property and Migration Services (VPMS) and Michael Kalmet relating to the position of Trade Commissioner.

An Opposition spokesman said the agreement for VPMS to facilitate the appointment of Mr. Kalmet as a Vanuatu Trade Commissioner.

It said it will ‘act as liaison between the client and the Government of Vanuatu, acquire appropriate documentation to enable the client in performing his duties and to undertake further tasks as directed by the client.’

The service agreement furthermore dictates the terms of the services that VPMS will undertake on behalf of the client. They are:

  1. Facilitate the appointment of the client as a Trade Commissioner;
  2. Act as liaison between the client and the Government of Vanuatu;
  3. Assist the client in acquiring appropriate documentation to enable the client to perform his duties;
  4. Undertake any further tasks as directed by the client.

He said the document lists the commencement of the agreement to its execution date on May 5, 2017 and shall cease to provide any further services two months from the said execution date.

“The client will upon execution of the agreement pay VPMS VT6,500,000 in cash,’’ he said.

“The agreement then discusses its relationship with VPMS and the client as an independent contractor and that content of the agreement will be held in strict confidentiality.

“Finally, the said agreement is signed between Camren Sam representing VPMS; the client, Mr Kalmet; and witnessed by Mr. George Iapson, First Political Adviser, Ministry of Trade.

“Then cash payment of Vt6.5 million changed hands with a confirmed payment by a Mr. Michel Sogari, representing AFIC.

The Deputy Prime Minister has responded to the Opposition queries stating this is ‘a scam’ and that disciplinary action will be levied on any political staff involved in this transaction.

He said he had no knowledge of it.

The Opposition said these questions require answers:

  • The Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Trades and Industries appoints Trade Commissioners based on merit who will legally represent Vanuatu as a Trade ambassador in promoting Vanuatu as a trade and investment jurisdiction.
  • Who owns “Vanuatu Property and Migration Services (VPMS).”
  • Since when has the Government appointed a private company to represent the Governments interest in sourcing out potential ‘Trade Commissioners.’
  • Has the Government appointed VPMS as its preferred facilitator in appointing ‘Trade Commissioners’
  • Why was the 1st Political Adviser to the Minister of Trade, Joe Natuman a witness to the Service Agreement between VPMS and Mr. Kalmet and present in the payment and receipting of Vt6.5 million cash being payment for services rendered.

“The Opposition is of the view that the Vt6.5 million cash payment for services rendered in obtaining an appointment as ‘Trade Commissioner’ is in fact a deceitful means of obtaining money by defraud and dishonesty masked behind a sham service agreement. “We ask the Government to come out clean and explain the above whether he had any say on the matter,’’ said the Opposition spokesman

“The Government should confirm that based on this agreement, Mr. Michael Kalmet was indeed appointed as a ‘Trade Commissioner’ and justify why he was appointed as Trade Commissioner.

“Mr Natuman must confirm his relationship to VPMS and/or his 1st Political Adviser’s relationship with VPMS.

“Failure in obtaining a justified reply to these questions will lead the Opposition to address the issue herein on another forum.’’