A consular official working for the Portuguese embassy in Guinea Bissau has been arrested on suspicion of over 200 visas since 2012 – the buyers of which could be anywhere by now.
Alarm bells started ringing on this apparent ‘scandal’ when seven Iranians arrived at Frankfurt airport last year on Portuguese visas, writes tabloid Correio da Manhã.
The situation “raised suspicions”.
Information was sent to Portuguese borders agency SEF, which mounted an inquiry.
The inquiry ended on Saturday with the arrest of the consular official in Lisbon, says the paper.
The man involved is described as 40 years old and “of dual nationality”.
“According to SEF, their investigation has dismantled a criminal network dedicated to aiding illegal immigration, the dimension of which is not yet totally known”, says CM.
What has been deduced is that the ‘scheme’ the consular official concocted created genuine visas that were then sold to individuals who wanted to gain entry into Schengen space.
Says the paper, 209 visas are thought to have been issued in this way (and subsequently sold) since 2012 – and “no one knows” where the alleged beneficiaries are.
Even more bizarre is the claim that “during the search of the house of the suspect, SEF’s team rescued a woman of Guinean nationality. Information collected points to her being a victim of human trafficking, in the house against her will”.
CM’s report adds that in March two Iranians were detained in Argentina “after passing through Portugal”. In 2017, an Iranian was jailed in Kuwait with 12 forged Portuguese passports, while in UK “3000 Indians entered on false Portuguese documents”.
Quizzed over this story, minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva said his ministry is “collaborating totally with competent authorities in order to eradicate these (kind of) practices”.
Even so, CM claims there are “dozens of pages on the Internet, particularly on the dark web, offering Portuguese visas and forged visas with the guarantee of quality”.
It is perhaps little wonder that at the end of last month, the European Economic and Social Committee called for a “suppression of all regimes conceding citizenship and/ or residency to investors in the European Union” – particularly Golden Visa regimes which have seen billions of euros flood into countries like Portugal (click here).
Says CM, one of the EESC’s reasons was “lack of control over beneficiaries”.