Poland has been accused of illegally giving an estimated 250,000 visas to foreign migrants in exchange for cash to bypass the immigration system and enter the European Union. The EU are now officially demanding answers.
Poland has allegedly handed out as many as a quarter of a million visas in exchange for cash bribes, prompting the EU and police to intervene. Multiple arrests have already taken place, with at least three people currently held under arrest.
The EU’s new ‘visas for bribes’ scandal centres around visas issued to migrants from Asia and Africa by consulates in return for bribes of several thousand pounds per visa.
Home Affairs Commissioner for the European Commission, Ylva Johansson, has now officially written to Poland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Zbigniew Rau, demanding answers and warning Poland that it could be in breach of EU law.
Johansson wrote: “Which structural measures are you taking, so as to ensure that the system is protected against any possible fraudulent or corrupt behaviour?”
“I would encourage you [to] take all possible steps to clarify all the allegations as soon as possible.
“These alleged cases could amount to violations of EU law, in particular the EU Visa Code.”
The Polish government has a deadline of October 3, set by Johansson, to respond to the allegations.
In response, the Polish government said it will carry out an audit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Consular Affairs and all Polish consular establishments.
A spokesperson said the ministry will “terminate contracts with all outsourcing companies that handle visa applications”.
The Law and Justice party, Poland’s governing party, is being rocked by the scandal, with it now being believed that Polish consulates issued the visas in Africa and Asia in exchange for bribes, opening the door for migrants to enter the European Union.
“This is the biggest scandal we have faced in the 21st century. Corruption at the highest levels of government, bringing a direct threat to all of us. And it’s because of people whose mouths are full of phrases about security,” Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki, an opposition politician, said in a televised address to the nation last Friday evening.
Media reports allege Poland’s consular sections issued around 250,000 visas to migrants from Asia and Africa since 2021. With Poland being a member of the EU’s visa-free zone known as Schengen, those migrants who arrived in Poland could now cross Europe’s borders freely and even enter the UK – with it not being known what background checks, if any, have been carried out.
Szymon Holownia, who leads a center-right opposition party, said the governing party “jeopardized the safety of millions of Poles by conducting the disgusting, commercial practice of selling visas.”
Government officials have been left with no option but to embarrassingly acknowledge that some illegal activity has indeed taken place.
The state prosecutor’s office said Thursday it charged seven people suspected of corrupt activities in accelerating visa procedures, with three of them under temporary arrest.
The prosecutor general, Zbigniew Ziobro, said authorities were working to bring the culprits to justice – however, he claimed that a mere 268 visas given out in the scheme.
Seven people suspected of corrupt activities in accelerating visa procedures have been charged, with three currently held under arrest.
The Foreign Ministry announced Friday it had dismissed an official “in connection with the ongoing findings regarding irregularities in the visa issuance process.” It said the official was Jakub Osajda, the director of the ministry’s office of legal and compliance management. It also announced an extraordinary audit of its consular department and all consular posts.
Shortly before this, Piotr Wawrzyk, the deputy foreign minister with oversight of consulates, was dismissed on August 31 in connection to the scandal, reports The Telegraph.
Wawrzyk then went on to apparently attempt suicide last week.
The prosecutor general confirmed that Wawrzyk had written a farewell letter stating he wanted to die because he couldn’t bear the ‘hatred’ he was receiving from the media. “He feels like a man hounded by this hate, because he feels like an honest man,” Ziobro said.
Wawrzyk, who it is understood was found with wounds on his wrists, had been responsible for preparing a regulation making it easier for foreign workers from countries including Iran, Pakistan and United Arab Emirates to enter Poland.
According to the Onet news portal, Wawrzyk personally insisted that temporary work visas be issued to groups of people from India who posed as crews working for the Indian movie industry, popularly known as Bollywood. Onet said the Indians paid $25,000 to $40,000 for the visas, hoping to use them to reach the U.S. through Mexico. It reported that U.S. officials had then alerted Poland to the matter, sparking the media’s awareness of the developing scandal.