18 Oct 2007

Third public servant in American Samoan court in immigration case

1:30 pm on 18 October 2007

A third public servant is appearing in court in American Samoa today, linked to an alleged immigration scam tipped to turn into the territory's biggest ever case of white collar crime.

One public servant has already been charged with corruption and another with stealing following an investigation into the Immigration Division, which is part of the Attorney General's Office.

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 well become the most serious public service corruption uncovered in American Samoa.

She says evidence had surfaced in recent years, but this is the first time charges have been laid.

"It's very telling that the Attorney General's office actually charged one of their own. I can not give a number, all I'm told is that there will be more arrests to come and that some high officials within the immigration office and other sectors of government will be charged."

Monica Miller says today's court appearance is expected to provide crucial evidence that will allow investigators to broaden their inquiry.