18 Oct 2007

American Samoa group says corruption goes to top of administration

8:01 pm on 18 October 2007

An anti-corruption watchdog and lobby group in American Samoa says criminality is rife in the public service and reaches as far up as the governor's office.

A third state employee is appearing in court today as investigations continue into an alleged immigration scam.

Our correspondent, Monica Miller, says staff are thought to have demanded payments of up to two thousand five hundred dollars to fast-track immigration approvals.

She says this could evolve into the most serious case of white collar crime ever uncovered in the territory.

The president of Common Cause American Samoa, Ben Te'o, says the problem has existed for years, and top officials must be held accountable.

"This is not just the immigration office, this is most of the departments in the government. I want to see the governor go public and put his foot down, and personally, I know everything that's happening here in American Samoa, not only in the immigration but all the way up is corruption."

Ben Te'o from the lobby group Common Cause.

A spokeswomon at the governor's office said he was unavailable to comment.