In an embarrassing phone interview for Pacific Beat yesterday, October 18, Vanuatu Government’s spokesman Hilaire Bule failed to explain why the Government allowed fraudsters, operating under misleading Vanuatu Information Centre name, to spread a false statement that Vanuatu now accepts Bitcoins for its citizenship, around the world.
“Regulations under DSP program, passed by the Parliament in 2016, only recognise payments in US dollars, not Bitcoins,” Mr Bule confirmed the official statement by Samuel Garae, Acting Secretary General of the Vanuatu Citizenship Office.
“We have around 18 designated agents, and one of them is Mr Bill Bani. The Citizenship Commission only recognises Bill Bani, [and never had any contacts with the entity called Vanuatu Information Centre],” Hilaire Bule told Pacific Beat’s interviewer Catherine Graue.
“Is the Vanuatu Government concerned that it seems that Mr Bill Bani is working with foreigners who are now going there and pushing the boundaries [with this kind of schemes]?” the interviewer asked Government’s Public Relations Officer.
Hilaire Bule failed to provide any adequate answer to this question, continuously saying that Vanuatu government accepts only dollars, and not Bitcoins.
“I understand that Bill Bani has had a controversial past, he was a well-known private solicitor and barrister, back in 2014 he had been a chairman of a similar scheme, called the Capital Investment Immigration Plan, which essentially tried to do the same thing. And he was removed from his position by the Prime Minister. So how does he even became a designated agent, if he had this highly controversial background?” Catherine Graue is wondering.
Hilaire Bule once again failed to articulate a clear explanation, further stating that “Bill Bani is ok”.
Government’s spokesman also couldn’t say, if the Government plans to take steps to punish people responsible for this scheme and prevent such situations from happening in the future.
Meanwhile, international media only now starting to report that “Bitcoin announcement” was in fact made by fraudsters pretending to be the Vanuatu Government, citing Vila Times as the only reliable independent media in Vanuatu.
Update 19.10 – (16:50):
A reliable source in the Government of Vanuatu has told Vila Times that the Government “will take serious sanctions” against people standing behind VIC scheme, but hasn’t been able to specify what kind of sanctions, and if these people, in Vanuatu and abroad, will face criminal charges.