Samoan passport sale case

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 1997, 12:00am

The chief immigration officer and one of his senior officials in the tiny island nation of Samoa are facing charges of corruption over the sale of passports in Hong Kong.

The alleged marketing of missing travel documents to Chinese nationals has sparked a scandal in Samoa.

Immigration chief Tuipoloa Suisala Eteuati appeared before the Samoan Supreme Court yesterday on 18 charges including nine counts of issuing false passports.

He was suspended from his job in April after a Chinese was arrested at Faleolo airport with a Samoan passport and 500 travel documents were said to be missing.

The country does not officially sell passports but requires citizens to live there for five years before qualifying for the travel document.

Passports were advertised in Hong Kong and Macau newspapers for $70,000, Samoan reports said.

Mr Tuipoloa was granted bail to reappear in court today.

Tuipoloa also faces four charges of theft, two charges of uttering false documents, and one count each of official corruption, forgery and making a false statement.

Immigration officer Totive Toeiu faces forgery, theft and corruption charges.