MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Serious Fraud Office – SFO lays charges alleging immigration bribes
Corruption and bribery charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against a former immigration official and his associate were before the Auckland District Court today.
Meng Yam (Peter) Lim (64) has been charged with four counts of corruption and bribery under Section 105(1) of the Crimes Act and Kooi Leng Pan (64) has been charged with four counts as a party to the same offences under Section 66(1) of the Crimes Act.
Allegations against Mr Lim were first investigated by Immigration New Zealand where Mr Lim worked as a Border Control Officer following which the matter was referred to the SFO for investigation.
The SFO alleges that between February and April 2013 Mr Lim colluded with Ms Pan to accept $26,500 from two individuals for the provision of immigration assistance.
SFO Director, Julie Read, thanked Immigration New Zealand for their prompt referral of the matter following their internal investigation.
“The acceptance of bribes by a public official is a serious issue. New Zealand has very low levels of corruption and bribery by international standards and it is important that we maintain this good reputation by addressing those instances which do occur. Cooperation between government agencies in these matters is critical to ensure that we prevent corruption from flourishing and to protect New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business” she said.
Mr Lim and Ms Pan were remanded without plea until the next appearance on 9 June 2015.
Background to investigation
Immigration New Zealand’s role includes deciding on visa applications, enforcing compliance with immigration laws and managing border security with regard to the movement of people.
Meng Yam Lim (Peter) was a Border Immigration Officer at Auckland International Airport whose role involved a high level of passenger and interagency interaction. This included having an internal relationship with Immigration and Visa Officers. Typical activity with this role included interviewing passengers and gathering information to verify or determine whether a person met the entry requirements for New Zealand.
Mr Lim is originally from Singapore and has been in New Zealand for approximately 40 years. He worked as a Border Immigration Officer since 2008 and was based at Auckland International Airport.
Kooi Leng Pan was born in Malaysia but was given permanent New Zealand residency in 1993. Ms Pan had previously worked at Auckland International Airport where she knew Mr Lim.
Crimes Act offences
Section 105 Corruption and bribery of official
(1) Every official is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, whether within New Zealand or elsewhere, corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, any bribe for himself or herself or any other person in respect of any act done or omitted, or to be done or omitted, by him or her in his or her official capacity.
(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give any bribe to any person with intent to influence any official in respect of any act or omission by him or her in his or her official capacity.
Secton 66 Parties to offences
(1) Every one is a party to and guilty of an offence who-
(a) actually commits the offence; or
(b) does or omits an act for the purpose of aiding any person to commit the offence; or
(c) abets any person in the commission of the offence; or
(d) incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit the offence.
(2) Where 2 or more persons form a common intention to prosecute any unlawful purpose, and to assist each other therein, each of them is a party to every offence committed by any one of them in the prosecution of the common purpose if the commission of that offence was known to be a probable consequence of the prosecution of the common purpose.
About the SFO
The SFO was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.
The SFO’s role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The SFO’s focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:
• business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
• public confidence in our justice system and public service
• New Zealand’s international business reputation.
The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”
Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”
In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:
• the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
• the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
• the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
• any relevant public interest considerations.
The SFO’s Annual Report 2014 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz