23 Aug 2005

Fiji ministry says official report on corruption 'a total lie'

8:19 am on 23 August 2005

Fiji's ministry of home affairs has described a report by the auditor general of corruption being rife in the Immigration Department as a "a total lie."

The Daily Post reports that an unsigned statement from the ministry says the auditor general did not include explanations regarding the discrepancies uncovered and this portrayed the entire ministry "from the minister downwards" as "corrupt."

The auditor general's report cites numerous cases of corrupt and deceitful practices in the issue of visas, work permits and citizenship to mainly Chinese nationals.

It says some immigrants were granted work permits through personal representations made to the minister even though they were defined by law as prohibited immigrants because of their criminal past in other countries.

The report also reveals how an immigration officer and a volunteer worker colluded to issue work permits to 11 Chinese nationals with the files then going missing.

In another case, a raid on an immigration officer's home resulted in the discovery of 28 files hidden in his bedroom.

The auditor general says most work permit files requested for auditing were missing while others were tampered with or deliberately concealed.

But the unsigned statement from the ministry of home affairs says clarifications and explanations were provided but these were not reflected in the auditor general's report.