P.M. backs probe into passports allegations

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has assured that an investigation into claims of Samoan passports being sold online will not leave anything to chance.

As the Minister of Immigration, Tuilaepa has given his full support to the investigation. And if the investigation finds that a passport, or passports, have been issued illegally, they would be automatically be cancelled.

Back in the country from New York, the Prime Minister addressed the issue during his weekly conference with the media yesterday evening.

Tuilaepa confirmed that the government has launched an investigation into the claims.

“I am happy as I was informed they are investigating the matter,” Tuilaepa said. 

“The illegal passports, if there is one, can be easily cancelled. Whoever that’s behind this…. it is a waste of time because these passports can be easily cancelled.”

Tuilaepa said the technology available these days should help the investigation.

“From the report given to me, it appears the matter went through the appropriate process and nothing out of the ordinary stood out. 

“However that will not stop the investigation into the process to determine the issue at hand and of course I will be informed when the investigation is completed.”

According to a press statement issued by the Press Secretary on Wednesday, the Immigration Office has launched an investigation into allegations that someone is “selling Samoan passports” online.

“As 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,” the stamen reads.  

“This is in relation to reports received by the Ministry last week 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.”

The statement did not say how long the investigation will take and what exactly they are after.  

But the Samoa Observer understands that the 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 has reported the matter to the Immigration Office in Samoa. 

“I ask him for my money back and he refuses to do so I contacted the Immigration. I got only few reply till now. I have not gotten my money from him.”

Attached in the email to the Samoa Observer are copies of the Samoan passports with photos of people who appear to be foreigners.

When the email arrived last week, the Samoa Observer immediately contacted the Immigration Office and the Office of the Press Secretariat for a comment.

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