18 Jun 2007

PNG customs launches investigation into passport racket

7:58 pm on 18 June 2007

Papua New Guinea's customs commissioner Gary Juffa says an investigation team from Port Moresby will go to Vanimo to investigate a passport racket.

Customs officers caught two men who were trying to smuggle 20 passports belonging to Indonesian and Singaporean nationals across the PNG Indonesia border at the weekend.

Indonesian Paidi Arendi and Malaysian Ching Loon Chan appeared in court today on a charge of attempting to bribe customs officials and the case has been adjourned until July 2.

Mr Juffa says only 6 customs officer currently patrol the border, although about 30 officers are really needed to do that job.

"What we're trying to do is we are going to be improving our presence at the border areas. We are intenting to be more vigilant in the inspection of our cargo and the examination of persons going in and out of the country. Border security will be a focus for customs."

Gary Juffa says the maximum penalty for attempting to bribe an officer is a fine of US$20,000, and possibly time in jail.