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New Zealand Officials Not Corrupt - Police

Police are now scotching reports that corrupt New Zealand officials helped members of an alleged crime syndicate smuggle people into New Zealand.

An earlier Scoop story today said police believed corrupt New Zealand officials had helped a ring of international criminals known as the "Sawar" syndicate smuggling human cargo.

Police arrested three key members of the gang in raids across Auckland yesterday. They are being charged with fraud relating to immigration documents.

Head of the inquiry Detective Inspector Craig Turley this afternoon said the police had no evidence that any New Zealand officials were involved in corruption. The only evidence of corruption the police had found so far was offshore, Mr Turley said.

"We have found no evidence of any corruption by New Zealand officials in government departments including the immigration department. The only evidence of corruption came from overseas - third world corruption with petty officials, the kind that people encounter on a daily basis."

The three members of the syndicate are believed to be from the Middle East. They are believed to have smuggled more than 1000 people from both the Middle East and Asia to New Zealand and Australia.

He said the police had made a complaint to the Herald newspaper which ran the original report alleging corruption among Kiwi officials. Mr Turley believed the error arose from an "internal situation" within the newspaper.

Mr Turley said police were continuing their inquiries working with other former members of the syndicate. These members were also likely to be charged with offences he said.

Police also obtained a lot of information from victims of the syndicate. Many of the people, who paid money to the gang to enter New Zealand, are believed to be refugees. Immigration Minister Leanne Dalziel says has said many could be eligible for refugee status.


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