Poland arrests and charges 7 in ongoing visa payment scandal News
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Poland arrests and charges 7 in ongoing visa payment scandal

A Polish government official Friday wrote on X that seven people have been arrested and charged by Poland’s Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) as part of an investigation into a scandal involving irregularities in the issuance of Polish visas.

The scandal was reported by Polish news outlet Onet, who claims to have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official and a high-ranking ruling party official as sources. According to Onet, Piotr Wawrzyk, deputy head of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued lists to foreign consulates containing the names, phone numbers and email addresses of people to be issued visas by Polish consuls. Those on the lists paid to skip the typical procedure for issuing visas. Some people reportedly paid the equivalent of 25,000 to 40,000 Zloty, or about $5700 to $9200, in fees for a multi-entry visa into Poland. Onet noted that multiple-entry visas issued for the Schengen Area are valid for entry into Mexico and that the US Secret Service notified Polish authorities that so-called “Bollywood filmmakers” who were issued Polish work visas had ended up in Mexico. It is unclear who profited off those fees.

Wawrzyk “resigned” from his post on August 31, and the foreign ministry sacked the head of its legal service Friday. Reuters reported that Poland’s CBA carried out a search of the foreign ministry on August 31 and seized documents and computers from Wawrzyk. One Polish outlet reported that Wawrzyk, who has been hospitalized due to “poor mental condition,” was visited by the police and the Internal Security Agency.

The scandal is notable for involving officials from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. PiS describes itself as a “national-conservative and Christian democratic political party” and is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group, which advocates for tougher standards on immigration. The irony has been significantly covered by opposition-party officials. Poland holds parliamentary elections October 15.