Immigration officials investigated for 130+ cases of alleged corrupt activity
In a recent Sydney Morning Herald article, Immigration chief Michael Pezzullo revealed that over the past 12 months there have been over 130 cases of alleged corruption involving immigration officers reported to the federal law enforcement watchdog. This equals more referrals than the watchdog has received in any single year since its creation in 2006.
A former Immigration Department investigations head has alleged “fear mongering” on refugees and asylum seekers has been used to deflect attention from the real problems in the immigration system.
Joseph Petyanszki, who jointly headed the department’s investigation office between 2007 and 2013, said the department had ignored tens of thousands of cases of rorting perpetrated by migration agents and dodgy employers who game the student and work visa systems to allow foreigners to pay for entry.
Mr Petyanszki’s investigators uncovered thousands of fraudulent visa applicants in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. In most cases, no charges were ever brought.
The investigators identified one major corruption case inside the department involving an officer who subsequently fled overseas.
“Numerous investigations [by the department] revealed massive fraud within our Student, Skilled Migration, 457 programs,” he said.
“Some investigations revealed thousands of skilled migrant applicants had lodged bogus qualifications from private colleges, funded by the Australian taxpayer, and in some cases excellent counterfeit degrees from our most prestigious Victorian universities.
“One investigation identified up to 4,000 applicants who used such documents to apply for skilled migration.”
Mr Petyanszki is now calling for a major overhaul of the fight against migration crime.