MONEY CRIME CHALLENGES

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Immigration highlights biggest challenge

By EDDIE OSIFELO

THE Immigration Department faces challenges in combatting transnational crimes.

Deputy Director of Immigration, Chris Akosawa confirmed this during the opening of a three-day Immigration Strategic Planning Workshop at Pacific Casino yesterday.

The purpose of the workshop is to:

  1. enable Immigration officials and stakeholders’ sharing and contributing their inputs to the Immigration strategic plan, restructuring and the Immigration reform;
  2. to evaluate the progress of the implementation of border reopening plan including the annual work plan and;
  3. to finalize Immigration border reopening plan, Immigration strategy and review of Immigration structure.

Akosawa said Immigration has detected cases related to transnational organised crimes which involved criminal syndicates using our commercial system to launder money and committing the acts of proceeds of crimes in the country.

He said it is a serious concern for any country with a weak and struggling economy like Solomon Islands to combat organised crime and proceed of crimes.

“Money laundering and proceed of crimes is more complex to investigate in which the Immigration laws, even do not have the teeth to bite.

“Immigration can provide supports for investigation, but need specific laws to combat proceed of crimes.

“I am always sad to see criminal syndicates operated onshore targeting our extractive and commercial sectors which are real threat to our economy and border security.

“Therefore, this workshop provides avenues to finalize Immigration reform and strategic plan addressing transnational orgniased crimes involving, fraud, coercion, official corruption and abuse of power embedded in our system silently undetected,” he added.

In the meantime, Immigration has achieved some milestone between 2020 and 2021 despite border restrictions.

Akosawa said Immigration revenue collections for 2020 and 2021 was $27 million, which was a decline of equivalent of 30 percent to 40 percent of collections.

He said mostly the revenues came from Passport, visa and border controls and border compliances.

The workshop ends tomorrow.


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