Attorney General, Lemalu Herman P. Retzlaff, has issued a ‘prohibition order’ against two suspects in connection with the alleged sale of Samoan passports online.
The order against Immigration employee, David Nomereta Uaine and a member of the public, Fitu Goshe, stops them from leaving the country while the investigation is in progress.
A copy of the ‘prohibition order’ obtained by the Samoa Observer was issued on Tuesday and signed by the Attorney General.
The order was addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Samoa Immigration, Agafili Shem Leo.
The alleged sale of passports was put to the attention of the Immigration Office by the Samoa Observer, which led to the government launching their investigation into the allegations that someone is “selling Samoan passports” online.
According to the ‘prohibition order’ pursuant to section 26 (1) (e) of the Immigration Act 2004, the Attorney General “upon my own motion and in my absolute discretion prohibit the persons named of this order from departing Samoa for any place outside of Samoa for the period of three months from the date of this order.”
The order further says the suspects “are required to be available in Samoa as part of an investigation of a criminal offense punishable in Samoa by imprisonment of two years or more”.
The Samoa Observer understands the matter is now with the Police and several employees of immigration have been taken into the Police Station for questioning.
As reported earlier, a press statement issued by the Press Secretary indicated that it is required under the Passport Act and the Public Service Act, the Immigration division of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has begun an investigation in to allegations of a potential breach of the Passport Act.
“This is in relation to reports received by the Ministry that passports have been illegally procured."
“The Ministry takes any allegation seriously and wishes to assure the public that security of our passports remains intact."
“Relevant action in accordance with the law will be taken upon completion of the investigation."
“The Immigration Office will continue to monitor, review and improve processes to ensure the safety and security of Samoa,” says the press statement.
The issue came to light when allegation was made in an email from one “Joanna Slewion,” which the Samoa Observer had referred to the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Ministry responsible for Immigration.
According to the email, the person claims that someone is “selling Samoa passport out to African (sic).”
The email said: “He even fooled me to send my 1000 U.S. dollars to him that he was going to give me the passport to go to Europe.”
The money was sent, however, there has been no contact from the alleged passport procurer. The email to the Samoa Observer indicates that this has been ongoing.
“He has been processing Samoa Apia passports for others and they have used it to travel to Europe,” the email claims.
The informant said he had reported the matter to the Immigration Office in Samoa.
“I ask him for my money back and he refused to do it, so I contacted the Immigration. I got only a little reply until now. I have not gotten my money from him.”