21 Jul 2006

Fiji and Canadian police investigating passport scam

10:00 am on 21 July 2006

Fiji and Canadian police are investigating how seven nationals from India arrived in Canada carrying Fiji passports with the names of indigenous Fijian villagers.

The Fiji Sun reports that corrupt officers in the Immigration Department have been accused of facilitating information on the seven villagers whose details were found on the passports carried by the Indian nationals.

An indigenous Fijian businessman in Vancouver, Canada, Bavai Batibasaga, who had arranged for seven youths from his village near Sigatoka to work in Canada, found that seven Indians nationals arrived instead carrying the passports of the youths.

Mr Batibasaga says they were caught because the passports had the photos of the Indian nationals but the names of the Fijian youths.

He says the Indian nationals arrived in Fiji, picked up the Fiji passports and traveled on to Canada.

Fiji's Director of immigration, Eroni Luveniyali, who was earlier suspended but is now reinstated, says all questions should be directed to the ministry of information.

Meanwhile, Fiji police are also investigating how a Suva tax driver charged with murder who had surrendered his passport to the magistrate's court, obtained another passport and fled the country last weekend.