Brussels asked to probe Malta's Schengen 'visa racket'

Brussels asked to probe Malta's Schengen 'visa racket'

MEP Gomes asks for those involved to be 'punished'

The European Commission has been asked to probe allegations that an official in the Office of the Prime Minister had been running a visa racket.

Firebrand MEP Ana Gomes on Froday wrote to European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans urging the Commission to ensure that the procedures to grant visas to third country nationals were followed and to “punish exemplarily those found involved in engineering any kind of criminal activity and breaches of the Schengen visa system”.

“This racket case may harm the security of all European citizens, and greatly damage the reputation of our institutions. There are many Libyan citizens willing to testify, and show receipts of the amounts paid to obtain visas,” she said in her letter.

Ms Gomes added that many other whistleblowers were afraid to speak out due to fear of reprisals, and having their permits revoked. The decision from the Maltese Police not to initiate a criminal inquiry, she said, was also “extremely worrying”.

Transcripts of a number of Libyans claiming they bought visas from Neville Gafà, an official in the Office of the Prime Minister, were submitted in court earlier this week.

Read: Transcripts alleging visa fraud by OPM official presented in court

The transcripts, along with a hefty document detailing how the alleged racket was conducted, were submitted in by Ivan Grech Mintoff as evidence to back claims of high-level corruption that he has long been investigating.

The document contains assertions and testimony on the alleged illicit sale of Schengen visas at the Maltese Consulate in Tripoli and in the issuance of Humanitarian Medical Visas by Mr Gafà, who denies all the allegations.

Mr Grech Mintoff has insisted that if the allegations were proved to be correct, corrupt officials could have issued up to 88,000 Schengen Visas and an unknown number of medical visas.

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