Public Report on the Improper issuing of duty exemption by Hon. Willie Jimmy and Customs Department - September 23, 1998 - Emalus Campus

Public Report on the Improper issuing of duty exemption by Hon. Willie Jimmy and Customs Department - September 23, 1998


The Consular Relations Act of Vanuatu adopts the provisions of the Vienna Convention.  Article 1 of the Convention divides consular officers into two categories: career consular officers and honorary consular officers.  The privileges of honorary consular officers in relation to duty exemptions are restricted to particular items and do not include vehicles.

The Honorary Consul of Spain in Vanuatu wrote to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Willie Jimmy seeking duty exemption on a vehicle to be used for official purposes.  Mr. Jimmy approved the application for exemption, purportedly pursuant to the Vienna Convention.  He represented that he had sought advice from the department of Foreign Affairs in respect of the exemption although the Department of Foreign Affairs denied that such advice was sought or given.  Mr. Jimmy advised Mr. John Simbolo Director of Department of Customs of the exemption being granted.  The exemption was processed in the amount of 1,026,612 vatu.  The exemption was in breach of the Vienna Convention and the Consular Relations Act of Vanuatu.

The Ombudsman concluded that in the conduct of the Customs Department and Mr. Willie Jimmy was contrary to law.  It further concluded that in approving the exemption Mr. Jimmy acted recklessly and illegally and in breach of the Leadership Code.

       That the exercise of Ministerial discretion in granting duty exemption be eliminated

       That the Minister of Finance, with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs, maintain a list of persons who are entitled to duty exemption.

       That the Director of Customs Department familiarize himself and his staff with all relevant legislation.

       That the Minister of Finance consider disciplinary action against Mr. Simbolo for his involvement in approving the exemption.

       The Ombudsman reiterated recommendations made in earlier reports concerning Mr. Jimmy.


Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
January, 2001
Ombudsman of Vanuatu
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