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Accused linked to Maori sovereignty group

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Newsline Newspaper, June 22, 2009) – The Chief Executive Officer of the Prime Minster’s Office, Auseugaefa Vaasatia Poloma Komiti has admitted that the passport scam involving hundreds of Samoan overstayers is a sensitive issue at this point.

"We need proof before we make any allegations, at this point no one has officially complained.

A reason for this could be fear of being caught out and deported."

He says that there are many sensitivities to the issue especially that the Samoan government does not want to get involved in the political affairs between Maori activists and the New Zealand government.

Gerrard Otimi, Maori activist behind the passport scam also claims to have a letter from the former Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II and Auseugaefa says he has no knowledge of the contents of this letter.

Auseugaefa says he has already contacted Vaatuitui Apete Meredith of the office of the Counsel General to ‘discreetly inquire’ from whatever sources he has.

Samoans make the highest number of overstayers in New Zealand and many of those have shelled out cash to buy the passports are from Samoa.

"We need one person to complain so that we take it up officially with the Samoan government."

He says at the moment there is no solid proof for the government to make allegations based on.

Community worker Joanna Fuimaono told TVNZ News that she has not encouraged anyone to pay Otimi but says they have exhausted all other avenues and it’s a way of highlighting problems with the Immigration Service.

It is understood that the group offering the passports is linked to the Maori sovereignty group Ko Huiarau which formed in the early 1800s when European settlement began.

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