18 Jun 2007

PNG customs officials break passport racket on Indonesian border.

2:32 pm on 18 June 2007

Customs officials in Papua New Guinea believe they have cracked a major passport racket after two foreigners were arrested while attempting to smuggle 20 passports out of the country.

The National newspaper reports that a Malaysian, Ching Loon Chan, and an Indonesian, Paidi Arendi, were arrested at the Wutung border post in the Sandaun province on Friday.

The passports allegedly belong to Singaporeans, Chinese and Indonesian nationals believed to be working for two major companies operating in Madang and Oro provinces.

A government official says one of the two was also charged with bribery after he allegedly offered a bribe to a customs official, who rejected it.

They were not allowed to continue to travel to Indonesia and were instead charged and detained at the Vanimo police station.

The 20 passports, and those belonging to the two, were confiscated by police.

The government official said the two confessed that they were transporting the passports across the border to have them stamped and signed without the formality of the owners actually travelling across.

Immigration requires the holder of a passport or work permit to leave the country when their visa expires, and return after it is renewed.