High Commission staff illegally sold visas to Nigerian nationals

May 23, 2018

Two staff at the Australian High Commission in Pretoria have been sacked after they illegally sold visas to Nigerian nationals.

Australian Conservatives leader Senator Bernardi says the Australian Conservatives will reform the visa system to stop all immigration scams,“We’ll make sure migration is in our economic, social and cultural interest.  We’ll always put Australia’s interest first.”

Australian Conservatives policies on issuing visas are as follows:

  • All visa applications from identified high-risk countries will take place within Australia.
  • The family reunion stream is misused and we will legislate that family members may only be brought to Australia if those members are declared at the time of the initial visa application.
  • We will also critically examine the student and temporary skills shortage visas to ensure they work in our national interest and are no longer open to misuse or abuse.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Home Affairs Department cancelled the visa of at least one Nigerian, in Australia on a student visa, on the basis the permit had been obtained as a result of the fraudulent conduct.

However, that person successfully challenged the cancellation in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Home Affairs Department confirmed two non-Australian citizens had their employment at the High Commission terminated following "internal disciplinary investigations".

According to an AAT judgement, published last week, the scam worked by the staff bypassing a system which allocated cases, allowing them to illegally approve visas to Nigerian applicants, who had been identified as high risk based on their nationality.

The racket was discovered by the Home Affairs Department, which then identified a link between offshore nationals engaging in criminal activity and visas granted by a department officer working at the Australian High Commission in Pretoria in South Africa.

As a result Home Affairs launched a joint investigation with the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity in early 2017.

The investigation found that locally engaged staff in the office of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria had been paid to approve visas to Nigerians.

Australian missions often employ locally engaged staff to undertake research, administrative and support roles.

Locally engaged staff do not have diplomatic or consular status, privileges or immunity, and wages and conditions are based on local labour laws and labour market conditions.

The corrupt system meant staff did not follow the rigorous assessment process that would have been applied to Nigerian applicants as part of department’s risk profiling.

It is alleged that the staff had been paid by third parties who were associated with Nigerian students.

It's not the first time the high commission in Pretoria has come under investigation for corruption.

In 2010, DFAT's conduct and ethics unit and passport fraud section travelled to London to find a former South African employee accused of stealing Australian passports.

To read Michael Inman's full story, click here.

To hear Senator Cory Bernardi's views on immigration levels, click the box below:

To read our full policies on immigration and citizenship, click here.

Picture: The Australian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa


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