European Commissioner Ylva Johansson sought an explanation regarding the cash-for-visas scandal
EBN – Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for home affairs, has sent a letter to the Polish government, asking for “clarifications”
Johansson sought an explanation regarding the burgeoning cash-for-visas scandal that has ensnared the country.
A spokesperson for the European Commission voiced serious apprehensions, stating, “These allegations are very concerning.” Furthermore, they raise questions about upholding the EU law.
The letter from Johansson was not publicly disclosed. However, it reportedly comprises an array of meticulously crafted questions and a request for a response by 3 October.
“We count on the Polish authorities to provide the necessary information to the Commission,” stated the spokesperson.
The scandal centres around accusations that Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its consulate network orchestrated a far-reaching illicit operation. They allegedly facilitated migrants from Africa and Asia in securing expedited visas for exorbitant sums of money.
Considering that Poland is a member of the Schengen area, a visa given by the country grants entry to 27 European states.
Germany Calls for Clarification
Germany has also urged for an official explanation regarding the issue.
Poland’s media reports note that since 2021, nearly 250,000 visas were given in exchange for bribe money. Additionally, every payment reportedly reached thousands of dollars.
These visas to Poland were often perceived as an intermediary step towards reaching the United States, the desired final destination.
In one shocking case unveiled by the Onet news portal, a group of individuals from India purportedly paid as much as $40,000 for visas.
They disguised as Bollywood movie producers and film workers, before reaching Poland and, eventually, the US.
People from Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan have also paid bribes.
While Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has acknowledged an issue, they contend it’s smaller than what the media reports.
Audit for Cash-for-Visas Scandal
The government has initiated an audit of all consulates abroad, dismissed numerous officials within the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and terminated contracts with external service providers responsible for visa applications.
Piotr Wawrzyk, the deputy foreign minister overseeing consular affairs, was dismissed and consequently hospitalised, following reports of a suicide attempt.
Simultaneously, the state prosecutor has levied charges against seven individuals suspected of corruption and participation in the expedited visa scheme.
This scandal has blindsided the country and unleashed a media frenzy just a month before voters head to the polls for a closely-watched parliamentary election.