Minister: We will Investigate the Police & Politicians aiding Mohammed Rizwan

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat has condemn the actions of Police and some politicians aiding Mohammed Rizwan escape deportation this week in Port Vila.

The Department of Internal Affairs, Immigration and Labour have launched an operation last month after an ultimatum to investigate investors and overstayers to sort all their required paperwork in the country with the relevant authorities.

However he was disappointed after so many efforts to track down people living in Vanuatu illegally like Indo-Fijian Mohammed Rizwan, certain politicians and civil servants came out interfering with the orders.

“We will launch a full investigation in the case of Mohammed Rizwan to ensure justice is sought on the matter”, he said.

Mohammed Rizwan was found guilty in the Fiji High Court in 2012 after he was implicated in numerous counts of fraud and other related offences in Fiji.

“It is a worry when people who have a criminal record come to Vanuatu and not respecting the laws and meddle with our internal affairs and manipulate the politicians and public servants for their self interest”, he said.

In 2017, Rizwan was secretary of the European Development Fund (EDF) Commission of Inquiry (CoI’s) in Vanuatu, but was later removed after Senior police officers of the Vanuatu Police Force alleged the Indo-Fijian has pending criminal cases in the Fiji High Court.

The then Acting Director General of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Pacco Siri, responded and defending Rizwan claiming that he was cleared by the Fijian authorities in 2015.

He said to protect the integrity and due process of the EDF CoI, like any CoI, it was agreed that the member concerned “clear the air around them prior to him taking part further despite his prolific professional qualification, sound experience as a financial person” and having been cleared in Fiji.

Fiji Sun profiled Rizwan in 2012 as a vegetable farmer, but how he ended up working for EDF Commission of Inquiry with a background in finance in Vanuatu is compelling as well as getting favours from Vanuatu politicians is unconventional and needs questioning.

The nature of his crime irritates local authorities in Vanuatu because he forged documents to circumvent his way in and out of the system as he was found guilty by assessors in the Lautoka High Court.

“We should be mindful when we screen people who disembark on our shores to invest and work, to ensure they have clean records and are not convicts, because in the case of people with fraud background, they are corrupt and will lie and manipulate people easily”, Minister Napuat reaffirms.

In 2007, an Indo-Fijian by Shalendra Sen Sinha, alleged to have scammed and defrauded the National Bank of Vanuatu by half million US dollar.

Shalendra was also questioned about a fraudulent scheme in which he allegedly promised to find seasons work for ni-Vanuatu in New Zealand the same year, and in 2009 he was reported to have played a scam that led to the downfall of Vanuatu’s powerful politician, Sato Kilman.

In the case of Rizwan, the matter is now with the courts, to sought justice where politicians assisted the foreigner to get a stay order in advance, but in a peculiar way because Mr. Rizwan had a copy of the stay order with him and a copy of the deportation order in his possession before the Police served him the deportation letter.

“I was later briefed by the Police and authorities acting on the order that they served the letter to Mr. Rizwan inside a government plated vehicle and he was riding around with few politicians on the morning of his deportation”.

“He was later removed from the same vehicle by Police and taken to the airport”, he said.

Rizwan was later released and witnesses reported seeing him upon exiting the Immigration Office in the terminal of the Bauerfield International Airport, he walked straight to a Police officer who was waiting outside and hugged him.

Few minutes later another government plated vehicle belonging to a Vanuatu member of parliament picked up Rizwan outside the terminal and left, according to witnesses.

“He failed to supply police clearance report to local authorities, so he needs to return to his country for not complying with our rules, but if politicians and public officials are aiding people like Rizwan, it is going to be a challenge for Vanuatu”.

Evidence from the court affidavits in Fiji showed that Mr Rizwan has been convicted with obtaining goods by false pretence, after he issued forged Bank of Baroda Savings Deposit Slip to locals in 2009.

In Vanuatu, the Fijian was also linked to an alleged assault and ongoing harassment and detention of an Australian female Barrister.

It is understood that all relevant authorities including Vanuatu citizens were informed by the Minister of Internal Affairs before the launch of ‘Operation Gateway’ to assist the government carry out the operation.

“Unfortunately it seems that some prominent leaders and officials are working on the contrary”, said Minister Andrew Napuat.