The Supreme Court has found David Nomeneta Uaine, the former immigration officer who made and sold Samoa passports to non-Samoans for money – guilty of 28 forgery, corruption, bribery and other charges – but the four charges of recording information on a passport database have been dismissed.
Supreme Court Justice Leilani Tuala-Warren issued her 23-page ruling yesterday.
Uaine, according to the written decision, was charged with 32 offenses: six counts of forgery; four counts of corruption and bribery; six counts of using forged documents; four counts of forged and false Samoan travel documents; four counts of improper issue of Samoan travel documents; four certifies false application for travel document and four counts of recording information on a passport database.
“I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the four (4) charges of recording information on a passport database. Those four charges are dismissed,” Justice Tuala-Warren wrote.
Uaine was an Assistant Immigration Officer between 2016 and 2017. He took applications from people who are not citizens of Samoa and made five Samoan passports bearing fake identities between September and December 2016. He even assigned the fake identities ages and villages.
Close to $SAT5,000 was collected by Uaine from senders who wired the cash for the passports from the Philippines via Western Union, according to the decision.
He used fake birth certificates and tricked co-workers into helping him as the system used by the immigration office requires multiple officers to be involved in the issuance of a singular passport. Uaine also used computers under the user log-in accounts of his colleagues without their knowledge.
During hearings held in October 2018 and February this year, the court was told by defense that the passport scheme was instigated by an “international master fraudster” named David Whyte but the court ruled that Uaine is the person who carried out the offending in the Immigration Office, not Whyte.
Prosecutor on the case is Lucy Sio Ofoia and defense attorney is Unasa Iuni Sapolu.
Uaine will be sentenced for the 28 charges on 11 April, 2019.