18 Jan 2010

Church minister denies offering residency permits to Fijians

4:04 pm on 18 January 2010

A church minister at the centre of an immigration inquiry involving people from Fiji who want residency in New Zealand says he is neither offering places under the Pacific Access Category nor charging for his services.

Kauapi Salanoa says he is helping more than 200 people whose immigration applications were filed months ago.

On Thursday, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said the scam involves offers of residency permits under the Pacific Access Category.

But Dr Coleman said people from Fiji have not been eligible under that category since 2006.

Radio New Zealand's Pacific issues correspondent reports that Mr Salanoa says he does not ask people for money but "might" get $10 or $20 if he helps them to get residency.

He also says he is not offering them places under the special-access category.

Police have confirmed they are investigating, but gave no details.