2 Australian embassy officials in South Africa sacked over alleged visa bribing

By @chelean on
Australian dollar
A customer counts his Australian dollar banknotes at an exchange office in downtown Cairo, Egypt, April 19, 2016. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Two immigration officials from the Australian embassy in South Africa have been fired over allegations that they accepted bribes for visas. The officials are non-Australian citizens and are said to be involved in dozens of corrupt visa approvals.

A Home Affairs department spokesperson told SBS that the two unnamed individuals were sacked from their jobs in the Australian High Commission in Pretoria following “internal disciplinary investigations.” It is still unknown if they will face criminal charges.

The investigation was a joint effort by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity and Border Force. They found that the visas issued from February to April 2017 and were received by Nigerians were “tainted by the corrupt conduct of the department officers.”

According to the Herald Sun, the scam involved criminals paying officials for Australian visas for Nigerian nationals. They allegedly bypassed mandatory checks to grant visas for high-risk individuals within days.

One of those affected in the investigation is Nigerian student Ogochukwu Concilia Odinkaeze, who is currently in Australia studying a Diploma of Nursing. She said a government official cancelled her visa because it had been obtained as a result of a department officer’s “fraudulent conduct.”

The decision was later overturned by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal because although it was among the visas approved by the said officers, there was no clear proof that there was anything wrong with her visa approval.

“While we are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to establish a reasonable suspicion of fraud by a Deparmtne officer in relation to the processing of certain student visas for Nigerian citizens, we are not satisfied there is sufficient evidence to establish a reasonable suspicion that this applicant’s visa was obtained as a result of the fraud identified,” the ruling reads.

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