Samoan pastor sentenced for lying to Immigration NZ

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Pastor of the Everlasting Gospel Church in Flaxmere, Faaofo Fomai. Photo: John Cowpland/Stuff.

Pastor of the Everlasting Gospel Church in Flaxmere, Faaofo Fomai. Photo: John Cowpland/Stuff.

A Samoan church pastor has been sentenced to home detention for lying to Immigration New Zealand, Stuff reports.

But Faaofo Fomai says he was only acting "for the love of God". 

According to a story titled “Church pastor who lied to Immigration NZ said he was acting 'for the love of God'” written by Marty Sharpe, Faaofo Fomai and his church, the Everlasting Gospel Church, had both pleaded guilty to four charges of supplying information to an immigration officer knowing it to be false or misleading. 

They were sentenced in Hastings District Court on Wednesday.

Fomai was sentenced to six months' home detention. The church was fined NZ$2000. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years' prison or a fine of $100,000.

The charges related to Fomai's dealings with a Samoan police officer, Uasi Siatulau, whom he promised a job as a youth pastor in his Hawke's Bay church.

Fomai is the reverend minister of the church, which since mid-2013 held Sunday services for a small number of Samoan families in Flaxmere.

In 2015 Fomai offered Samoan policeman Uasi Siatulau work as a Youth Pastor at the church and sponsored him for a work visa as a religious worker.

This was despite Fomai knowing that the charity could not afford to employ Siatulau. 

In order to secure the visa for Siatulau, Fomai wrote to Immigration NZ to say the church charity would pay him $700 to $800 a fortnight.

Siatulau wanted to bring his wife and four children with him to New Zealand but was told by INZ that he would need to earn more than the charity was paying. So Fomai wrote to INZ saying the salary had increased to $1350 to $1400 a fortnight.

The family was granted two-year work visas. When the family arrived in New Zealand they were housed at Fomai's home address.

For more details, visit: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/98662484?cid=facebook.post.98662484

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