28 Dec 2010

PNG group leaders charged with fraud over Australian citizenship bid

6:30 pm on 28 December 2010

Papua New Guinea authorities have charged the leaders of a group who tried to take dozens of PNG nationals across Torres Strait in a campaign to claim Australian citizenship.

The charges relate to fraud and immigration offences after allegedly duping hundreds of people into paying for citizenship in Australia.

The newspaper, The Australian, reports that the activist behind the scheme, Jonathan Baure, is in custody in Port Moresby, along with several of his associates, after he and 118 PNG nationals were flown home at the weekend by Australian authorities.

His group, Papua Australia Plaintiff United Affiliates, wants Australia to recognise that Papuans were not given a choice to remain Australians when PNG became independent in 1975.

The paper says up to 300 people were preparing to make the journey across Torres Strait when the first group of boats was intercepted.

It says people had paid a minimum of 75 US dollars to Mr Baure for documents that gave membership to his group.