Custom boss apologises as corruption complaint laid against staff at airport

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Customs Officers investigating companies which imported goods under false name. Photo/Supplied

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Kulu ‘Anisi Bloomfield, has apologised to a complainant who accused his staff at Fu’amotu International airport of bribery and corruption.

Bloomfield said the complaint could have been resolved quickly if the complainant had spoken to the officer in charge of the airport so they could work directly with him there and with those who were involved.

Bloomfield said it was difficult to investigate the allegation without any concrete evidence although the Ministry would look at the complaint if its office received any solid information.

Auckland-based Sylvester Tonga alleged that he was told when he flew into the airport recently  that he and others who were queued to clear their luggage would have their luggage cleared more quickly depending on how much money they paid staff.

Tonga told Kaniva News he was surprised to see how the alleged corruption was conducted in front of the travellers.

He has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman’s office.

Tonga alleged a man paid money to the staff and he was removed from the queue straight away and allowed to pick up his luggage and go.

He also alleged two men in front of him in the queue gave a carton of cigarettes and alcohol to two customs staff who policed the queue. These travellers were then allowed to go without having their luggage scanned in the x-ray scanner.

Tonga claimed a female custom officer approached him and others and asked if there was any stuff in their luggage that could pose a danger, to which he replied in the negative.

The woman then looked at another customs officer who told the woman jokingly that Tonga was a rich man.

Tonga replied he was not and had no money because he was poor.

The man then indicated to another man who stood by the scanner to take Tonga’s luggage and scan it.

Tonga claimed he was told to pay TP$100 at a booth, but when he asked the cashier for a receipt he was told there was none.

He said when he was asked by the ombudsmen for concrete evidence to support his complaint he asked them to check the log book at the airport to see who were working on June 29 when their flight arrived.

Bloomfield called on travellers who arrived at the airport to take pictures and videos if they could to support any complaint against staff at the airport.

He said the Ministry would wait for a contact from the Ombudsman’s office regarding Tonga’s complaint.

The main points

  • The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Kulu ‘Anisi Bloomfield, has apologised to a complainant who accused his staff at Fu’amotu International airport of bribery and corruption.
  • However, Bloomfield said the complaint could have been resolved quickly if the complainant had spoken to the officer in charge of the airport so they could work directly with him there.
  • Auckland-based Sylvester Tonga alleged that he was told at the airport recently that he and others who were collecting their luggage were told they could clear it quickly if they paid the staff.
  • Tonga told Kaniva News he was surprised to see how the alleged corruption was conducted in front of the travellers.