10 Oct 2008

PNG Immigration official denies claims of collusion with people smugglers

2:56 pm on 10 October 2008

A senior Papua New Guinea Immigration official has denied that PNG officials colluding with people-smuggling cartels help illegal migrants enter Australia.

This follows reports that PNG's National Intelligence Organisation is investigating visa scams between groups in high risk countries like Pakistan, China and Middle East who pay off local officials.

PNG's Post-Courier newspaper has reported individuals are paying 5,000 dollars for a PNG visa as a stepping stone to eventually reach Australia.

However Joe Nabetau, from the immigration division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, denies that government officials are issuing false documents to illegal migrants.

The newspaper, The National, reports Mr Nabetau as saying there are no rackets in the Immigration Department and no organised crime syndicates paying off officials.

A group of Sri Lankan men was recently detained and deported after being detected by PNG's National Intelligence Organisation.

Mr Nabetau said the Sri Lankans were deported because PNG representatives in Bangkok issued incorrect papers.