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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Labour Party official in immigration probe (Auckland, New Zealand)

A Labour Party official is being investigated over immigration irregularities, just weeks after he helped Labour MP Su'a William Sio facilitate a meeting with Pacific Islanders duped in a fake-visa scam.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed it was investigating Semisi Faka'osiki

muli, the secretary of the Labour Party's Tongan branch, but would not disclose details or comment further while the investigation is going on.

The Herald understands the investigation centres around fake skilled employment offers to help immigrants get New Zealand work permits and residencies, but it is not clear how much money or how many people were involved.

Mr Sio, Labour's Mangere MP, said he was "surprised and shocked" at the allegations against Mr Faka'osikimuli - but said he supported the Immigration investigation "to get to the bottom of the matter".

"For too long, our people have been preyed on ... because of their desperate immigration situations, and this is all part of cleaning the industry up, so I say, bring it on."

Mr Sio said he had known Mr Faka'osikimuli for two years and had worked with him in various capacities - most recently at a meeting with Pacific Islander victims of a fake residency stamps and visa scam on July 4, where Mr Faka'osikimuli chaired the Tongan group.

"He's an active member of the Labour Party, and like many members of the local Pacific community, Semisi comes regularly to my electorate office in Mangere," Mr Sio said.

Mr Faka'osikimuli, a former immigration consultant, said yesterday that he was not aware of any investigation and that Immigration had not contacted him.

"Yes, I am involved with the Labour Party, but I do not use it to push my private business," he said.

Han Jian, a former client of Mr Faka'osikimuli - whom he knows as James Semisi - said he decided to lodge a report to the police and Immigration, after receiving a letter from Immigration accusing him of fraud and submitting fake employment job offer documents, and for falsely claiming he had an offer of skilled employment from a company, TVP Computers.

"I was shocked, because I didn't go for any interviews and didn't even know I had any job offer, and I definitely did not submit anything to Immigration," said Mr Han in Mandarin.

"After paying James about $14,000, all he said was to trust him and that is what I did. I thought with his involvement in the Labour Party, he will have good connections with Immigration."

Mr Han, originally from China, who is now in New Zealand illegally, says he has engaged a new immigration adviser, Tuariki Delamere, and is fighting to stay in New Zealand.

When contacted by the Herald, Vaifoou Pangataa, of TVP Computers, said he was a sole owner-operator of the company and said he did not know Mr Han and had never made job offers to anyone.

According to Immigration documents, the application papers were submitted by Rosie Brown, JP, a community worker who works part-time out of Mr Sio's electorate office. Source: NZ Herald, article by Lincoln Tan.

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