A large, white warehouse containing cigarettes of unknown origin, including manufacturing equipment at the Kennedy Estate, was raided by the National Drug and Vice Squad last week.
Minister Thomas said today: “I have used my powers under the Migration Act based on national security concerns given the rampant and increasing incidences of the importation, production and sale of counterfeit products to deport the foreigners associated with the company Goldenborough Ltd.
“I had cancelled visas of 17 of them and issued orders for their deportation. Fourteen of these foreigners are currently out of the country and their employer will deliver copies of these orders informing them that they no longer have the right to return to work and reside in this country.
“This decision is based on a very concerning report provided to Immigration by the National Narcotics Bureau on their findings,” said the Minister.
“Immigration will work closely with relevant law enforcement agencies, including the National Narcotics Bureau and Police, to ensure that the investigation into the alleged manufacture of illicit cigarettes is properly investigated and a report is provided to the government. A decision will be made on issuing further visas for the company if they are cleared,” added Minister Thomas.
“We cannot continue to allow this country to be run by transnational criminal syndicates that import and sell low quality and hazardous counterfeit goods to our people, endangering their health. I have instructed Immigration to immediately deport foreigners that were charged and fined by the Courts for importing counterfeit goods.
“We will put a taskforce in place immediately under the Joint Agency spot check operations arrangement to investigate, prosecute and deal with illicit trade that also involves movement of transnational criminals facilitated by criminal syndicates in the country. The government is losing billions of kina through these illegal businesses with foreigners involved.
“The moratorium on foreigners employed in reserved positions in the retail sector and in the SME related businesses has been in place since mid-2017 and Immigration will continue to enforce that to ensure foreign businesses recruit locally.”