Convicted Tongans cleared to travel

Convicted Tongans cleared to travel

Convicted Tongans cleared to travel

Updated 19 February 2013, 18:00 AEDT

Tongan police have told Australian officials that convicted criminals may have travelled to Australia after having their records wiped clean by police officers in Tonga.

The Tongan Police Commissioner, Grant O’Fee, says 172 people convicted there have obtained police clearance letters, allowing them to apply for visas overseas.

The New Zealand Immigration Minister says an estimated 40 of those people may currently be in New Zealand and some may have gained residency.

Others are believed to have made their way to Australia.

Commissioner O’Fee says police officers in Tonga are being investigated in relation to the practice which is believed to have happened in the 10 years to 2011.

New Zealand has put an immediate hold on Tongan visa applications that require police clearance.